DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A ripe seed capsule of Paris polyphylla. The picture shows a seed capsule of P. polyphylla var alba that has split open in early Autumn, exposing the fruits within. The top of the capsule is above the fruits; the dark filaments (above centre, to right) are the remnants of the female sex organs (styles) of the flower. The bright red fruits are berries each containing one seed. P. polyphylla is used in folk medicine in its native Nepal and China, and is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. The rhizomes of the plant are used in medicine; harvesting thus depletes the population of a species that is slow to increase from seed. In a garden situation, P polyphylla is an unusual and hardy perennial plant for damp shade. The plant in this picture was grown in the UK from seed, and first flowered 6 years after the seed was sown. Single plants slowly produce a clump from the branching rhizome.
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