Saturday, July 26, 2014

Northern Starflower (Trientalis borealis)

The northern starflower is a small, perennial plant, which grow only a few inches tall. They are commonly found in woodland areas, and do well in shady areas with moist soil. Northern starflowers have small blooms from mid-spring through mid-summer, which then turn to seeds. They are generally found in clusters, since they can also spread through underground rhizomes.

Northern starflowers are so called because their white flowers look like little stars. While the flowers can have anywhere from five to nine petals, it is common for them to have seven petals (which is uncommon for flowers). Additionally, they generally have seven sepals and seven stamens, and sometimes seven leaves.

There doesn't seem to be any folklore about the northern starflower, at least not that I've been able to find. Nor does it seem to have any medicinal uses, and it's not really edible.

Still, the flower has some potential ritual uses. For example, seven pointed stars are often considered protective symbols, so one might place some of the blooms on an altar for a protective working, or in a protective charm bag. Some associate the seven pointed star with the fae, and so it might be used in their workings. I also saw a few northern starflowes with eight pointed blooms, and the eight pointed star is a sacred symbol of Ishtar, and sometimes of Venus and Aphrodite, as well. An eight pointed star could also be symbolic of the four quarter and four cross quarter days. Northern starflower might also make a nice decoration or offering to deities associated with stars, such as the Egyptian goddess Nut.
Starflower is listed as endangered in Georgia and Kentucky, and threatened in Illinois and Tennessee. So if you come across them in one of these areas, please just enjoy them where they are.

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