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Word of the Week: Calyx (Wild Bergamot)

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each week to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Word of the week is CALYX [KAL-iks] (noun): The first part of a flower that develops and is attached directly to the stem of the plant. Petals form inside the calyx along with the other parts of the flower.

In the areas of High Park where there is Black Oak Savannah habitat, a mid-summer favourite is in bloom: Wild Bergamot! Blooming bergamot can be described as looking a bit like a pom pom, with each tubular blossom extending from a tubular calyx.

When this plant is in bloom, we notice lots of insect pollinators enjoying all that this plant has to offer. We also like to gently rub the leaves between our fingers to enjoy the wonderful smell. We find that it smells a little bit like oregano which is a great way to remember this plant!

When the blooming period is nearing its end, the flowers drop off leaving the calyxes behind. In the fall, small seeds will begin to form in the base of each calyx tube. The heads will dry and turn a darker brown colour as the seed ripens. The dry heads persist into the winter, spreading seeds from the calyx cups as they wave in the wind. At this time of year, we notice birds like American Goldfinches, enjoying the protein-packed seeds that are sitting in the calyx cups.

Keep an eye out for Wild Bergamot on your next visit to High Park!

FUN FACT: Wild Bergamot is a member of the mint family!