Common Names pathfinder, trail plant
Family Composites, Sunflower
Flower Color Green, mixed
Plant Type Forb
Adenocaulon bicolor is commonly known as Pathfinder or Trail plant. Pathfinder grows in moist organic sites of forests lower than 6500 feet elevation. Pathfinder is a perennial that regenerates each year, forming what appears to be a low hovering mat of leaves in the shadowed areas under trees or along fallen logs. Pathfinders’ value is the shade it’s 4-6 inch wide leaves provide, for retaining moisture in the duff layer of the forest floor, which assists in the decomposition of organic matter. Although the leaves are the most prominate part of this forb there is a single slender stem that shoots up to about three feet tall with raceme inflorescence (stem growth arrangement, see photos) that extends out to tiny white flowers that make there appearance from June to September. Pathfinder’s tiny fruit that grows at the end of the inflorescent stem has glandular stocks, which means they have tiny hairs that cling to pantlegs to be transported through the forests of Montana, west to Alaska and south threw the California forests.
Historical aspect; Pathfinder is a plant that was observed by trackers of convicts and lost people. Its’ importance in tracking was the extreme difference of the upper and lower leaf surfaces; the top surface being dark green and the underside being a white wooly appearance. When the leaf is overturned it is a dead give away that a passerby had been through the patch of leaves.
pathfinder, trail plant (D.L.C. 12-15-04)