Monday, May 5, 2008

Flora-Quest

Last weekend marked the second of what we hope becomes an annual event. Flora-Quest is a botanical extravaganza held at Shawnee State Forest, with field excursions ranging throughout the forest and into the Edge of Appalachia preserve in adjacent Adams County. This year's event went exceptionally wel, I thought, in so small measure because of the hard work and skillful planning of Cheryl Harner and Paula Harper. Huge kudos to Kevin Bradbury and Jenny Richards at Shawnee State Park, too - we couldn't do it without their active support and participation. Likewise for all of the other volunteers, including many of the state's finest botanists.
Scads of plants, including many great rarities, were found, as well as scores of birds, butterflies, and other organisms of interest.
Not much time to blog now, I'm down in southeastern West Virginia for the New River Gorge Birding Festival, and have the pleasure of leading trips down here all week. Stunning by any standard is the scenery in these parts, and I'll toss up a few visuals from West By God later.
For now, here's a few pics from F-Q.

The rare Umbrella Magnolia, Magnolia tripetala, was just unfurling those gargantuan leaves against an otherwise largely leafless early spring forest.

Last year's Flora-Quest saw the flora about a week advanced over what it was this year. Large Yellow Lady's-slippers, Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens, were just thrusting their odd egg-shaped flowers out, but most weren't quite ready. The Pink Lady's-slippers, Cypripedium acaule, on the other hand, were looking incredible.


Almost shocking in appearance, with their rich bluish-purple flowers providing a stark contrast against the lifeless brown leaf litter, are these Dwarf Iris, Iris verna. These rarities are listed as threatened in Ohio, and were in perfect shape, Real show-stoppers, the colony along the roadbank just below the lodge inspired many a plant enthusiast to stop and check in for a look.

Another real crowd-pleaser was the rare Appalachian lily known as Spotted Mandarin, Prosartes maculata. We caught it at peak glory, and this species was a "life plant" for many of the F-Q participants.

In all, we must have seen well over 300 species of plants between all of the groups, and maybe 100+ birds, not to mention other interesting animals, especially on our night forays. I'll try and slap some other stuff up later.

Thanks to everyone who came this year, and we'll hope to see you back next year.

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