Skip to main content

Snow Trillium erupts

A slightly swollen and roiled creek flows by what, at first blush, appears an ordinary wooded slope. It's not - heavy sheets of dolomitic limestone lay just under the surface. The presence of this rock creates just the sort of thin limey soil favored by one of our true harbingers of spring. Those of you that live up here in the Midwest's northern latitudes, take heart. Following is the most surefire botanical indicator of Spring that I've yet seen.

On my way back from yesterday's Amish Bird Symposium in southernmost Ohio's Adams County, I stopped off to have a look at our largest population of Snow Trillium, Trillium nivale. Don't know that I would have, ordinarily, but John Howard tipped me that he'd seen a few plants in bloom there the preceding Wednesday.

Upon arrival at the rocky slope, it took only seconds to spot tiny white flecks of white glimmering in the dim rainy woodland. Yes indeed, the trillium were bursting forth in profusion - the earliest I have ever seen them, at least at this site. I've photographed them at this spot in at least two other years, and on both occasions the population was near peak bloom about one month later than this date. Snow Trillium, from my experience, are rather fickle as to when they flower, seemingly not so tied into a specific photoperiod - length of day - as our other plants.

This is the smallest of Ohio's eight trillium species, and easily the earliest of the lot to bloom. Its specific epithet - nivale - means "snowy", and it isn't uncommon to see a patch that gets carpeted with a late snow, the flowers poking forth from a snowy blanket.

Snow Trillium is one of nearly 100 species of vascular plants that was discovered and described to science from Ohio. The type locality - the place of the original discovery and collection - was along the banks of the Scioto River near Columbus, in 1834. John Riddell was the collector and his type specimen still exists, safeguarded in the New York Botanical Garden. If you want to see it, click HERE.

Every week will bring new plants pushing forth and spreading their petals. March is a welcome time of year after these cold and snowy past few months.

Comments

Doug Marcum said…
That's so cool! I have never seen these, I would love to come upon some this season! Nice photos : ) I will have to figure out where they can be found near me, I'm sure they probably bloom a bit later up in the Northern counties...
Jan Kennedy said…
Thank you for sharing this sign of spring and its interesting history.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…