Yellow Stargrass

Hypoxis hirsuta. In mid-spring, as the leaves begin appearing on the deciduous forest trees, the Yellow Stargrass brings bursts of yellow to the forest floor. A small but brilliant perennial, Yellow Stargrass bears grass-like leaves that are similar to those of the Blue-Eyed Grass. However, though it has also been placed in the Lily family as well as the Amaryllis clan, the genus Hypoxis is sometimes classified in a family of its own. Hypoxis hirsuta seems to have found little use among man or beast; it is not known to have been employed as a herbal medicine and wildlife seem to shun its leaves, perhaps in part because of their hairs — hence  “hirsuta” or “hairy” — or maybe because of their flavor. Visible clearly in this picture, the hairs on the stems and on the flowers’ six yellow tepals (sepals that look like petals) may also have evolved for another purpose: To entangle the feet of crawling insects like ants, thus dissuading them from pilfering pollen. The nectarless blossom uses pollen to attract its only fans — flying insects such as small bees, flies and beetles that can provide the pollination services that crawlers can’t. Yellow Stargrass is found in most states east of the Rockies. 

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