Onward ho with some more of our earliest flora! You of the tundra-people in the Great White North, where scarcely a dandelion is yet blooming, can take heart knowing that spring is rapidly steamrolling across the landscape. The following photos come from last Sunday’s southern Ohio botanical foray with the Wild Ones.
Lumpers and splitters. Ya either love ‘em or hate ‘em, depending upon your expertise and perspective. These are the scientists who study taxonomy, or the science of classification. Their antics are probably most widely known in the bird world, as there are so many bird watchers and such a widespread interest in listing, or seeing how many species one can find.
“Lumping” is basically sewing a “species” back together after it has been considered two or more species, such as was the case with our juncos. “Splitting” (loud cheer, bird listers!) is when a decision is made that one species is actually comprised of distinct enough entities that it warrants being cleaved into two (or more) species.
And such was the case with the above plant. Far more lumping/splitting goes on in the botanical world than is the case with ornithology, as we learn more about plants. This plant is Giant Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum giganteum, formerly considered a variety of Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides. However, it blooms a few weeks earlier, and has larger flowers with consistently purple sepals.
Note how the plant is strongly purplish. The young, growing leaves and shoots are flush with anthocyanins, which help protect young sensitive tissues from potentially harmful UV rays. As growth continues, more chlorophyll will be produced and eventually the plant’s tissues will become green.
A beautiful Wild Ginger plant, Asarum canadense, one of our earliest blooming wildflowers. Look closely at the base.
I hope that you are making time to get outside and enjoy the rush of spring.