Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More spring flora

I hope you don't mind a few more plants. Spring wildflowers, to me, are one of Nature's greatest artistic expressions. They come in a dazzling variety of form and color, and are all the more enchanting due to their ephemeral lives. As a photographer - an admittedly amateur one - I find them irresistable subjects for my lens.

Pussy-toes, Antennaria plantaginifolia. This odd member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) forms colonies on dry banks and other sunny well-drained sites.

While not wildflowers, ferns reappear with them, unrolling from the rhizomes like one of those paper party whistles. For a few days, they are "fiddleheads", and many species are edible at this stage. This is a young Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina.

Barb Stigler acts as a size scale for last year's stalk of an American Columbo, Frasera caroliniensis. This jumbo gentian can reach eight feet in height; the stalk held by Barb extends to the top of the photo.

This year's crop of American Columbo peppers an especially favorable dry oak woodland. Columbos flower but every few years; it takes some time to build up the energy to shoot forth the massive inflorescences. Last year there was an excellent flowering crop at this site; this year there will be few in bloom.

One of the herbalist's more coveted wildflowers, Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis. A member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), its strange flowers seem to have petals made of thread. The root is used for a variety of medicines, and the value keeps rising. Goldenseal - sometimes called "yellowroot" - has disappeared in some areas due to overharvesting. We found thousands of plants on this day, and I'm not saying where.

Two-flowered Cynthia, Krigia biflora. Another in the massive sunflower family, this species has especially showy orange blooms.

A small colony of Round-leaved Ragwort, Packera obovata, brightens an otherwise drab embankment. This is the primary host plant for the beautiful Northern Metalmark butterfly.

Many plants in the phlox family (Polemoniaceae) are stunning, and Greek Valerian, Polemonium reptans, is no exception. This particular specimen is variety villosum, which is far scarcer then the typical variety. It is known only from southern Ohio and adjacent Kentucky. Legendary Ohio botanist Lucy Braun discovered and named it.

A low-growing member of the rose family, the aptly named Dwarf Cinquefoil, Potentilla canadensis.

A common and oft-commented on wildflower, Rue Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides. The showy "petals" are not petals at all - they are the sepals. True petals are wanting in this diminutive member of the buttercup family. The earliest of their lot to bloom sometimes have a subtle pinkish tinge.

Ohio's official state wildflower, the Large-flowered Trillium, Trillium grandiflorum. We encountered a rich wooded slope covered with them, intermixed with luxuriant beds of Wild Leek, Allium tricoccum.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I always enjoy seeing the wildflowers that you find. You find things I have never seen. I guess I don't know where to look for them. I wouldn'tknow them. I tote around a wildflower book or two when out botanizing.

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing these Jim. I've encountered many of these already on our property, although I haven't seen the Cynthias yet. We have Golden Ragwort growing in very large clumps in various spots of our woods - they are quite showy in such large groupings.

DenPro said...

While there are many species of cinquefoil in Ohio, one should pay close attention to populations of Dwarf Cinquefoil, as it is the host plant for the endangered Grizzled Skipper butterfly