I made a long rambling cruise through southern Ohio yesterday, ostensibly to check for waterfowl on the extensive flooded fields along the lower Scioto River. There were plenty of ducks - and lots of flooding - and I'll post something on that later.
With temperatures pushing 70 degrees, it was the first truly warm and springlike day, and I knew that some of our earliest flowers would be in bloom. So, some special side trips were made to secret little Ohio River Valley hotspots. In these rocky glens, the stones and southern exposure create little pockets that heat up earlier than their surroundings and stimulate the local plants to get a jumpstart on the rest.
This one wasn't hard to find in sunny sandy and gravelly spots. It's Whitlow-grass, Draba verna, a non-native member of the mustard family. A ubiquitous denizen of open waste areas, the plant is a tiny annual. This one might have towered an inch or so skyward. Small as it may be, these little mustards have a cetain charm to them.
Once, our Hepatica were considered to be two species: round-lobed (H. americana) and sharp-lobed (H. acutiloba). The alleged differences had to do with the leaf shape, but these characters don't hold up well and it isn't hard to find intermediate specimens. In a fit of common sense, botanists decided to lump our North American plants with their apparently essentially identical Eurasian counterparts. Bravo!
Trout lilies rise from deeply buried bulbs, and are long-lived perennials. I suspect that some specimens, if they live a charmed life, can live for a very longtime.
The plants in this blog are the true vanguards of spring. Every week will see new members joining their ranks, and the wildflower army will reach full force in late April/early May in southern Ohio. That's why we hold Flora-Quest then, in the heart of Ohio's greatest forest, Shawnee. If you want to see scads of flowers and learn a lot more about them, join us. Details are HERE.