Skip to main content

A wildflower montage

Last Saturday, I made an extended foray into the depths of Adams County in southernmost Ohio. My primary mission: wildflowers. As the days become longer, the increasing sunlight gradually warms the woodland soil until a critical mass is reached. When the humus reaches a suitable temperature, the woodland wildflowers begin their eruption. For many, me possibly included, the explosion of a staggering diversity of spring wildflowers marks one of the great passages of the seasons. It is a spectacle not to be missed.

Spring has indisputably sprung early this year, and I was astonished by the numbers and variety of plants that were already in full bloom. Following are some of the botanical objets de' art.

A woody harbinger of spring, the pale lemony blossoms of spicebush, Lindera benzoin, were out in profusion. Later, after leafout, beautiful spicebush swallowtail butterflies will deposit tiny jeweled eggs on their namesake plant's' foliage, which in  turn will hatch curious snakelike caterpillars.

Cut-leaved toothwort, Cardamine concatenata, one of many vernal mustards. As with the others in its Brassicaceous tribe, the flowers have four petals.

Another mustard of spring is the delicate little purple cress, Cardamine douglassii. Its flowers are tinged with an oh so subtle hue of lavender.

They don't come much more fragile and ephemeral than this, the yellow harlequin, Corydalis flavula. It's blue-green dissected foliage may remind you of its close ally, the Dutchman's-breeches.

A stunning spike of dwarf larkspur, Delphinium tricorne, beautifies an old stump. Larkspurs are members of the buttercup family, and like many of their kind are quite poisonous.

Perhaps taking the award for elfin beauty is the impossibly tiny harbinger-of-spring, Erigenia bulbosa. A big one towers only a few inches skyward, and they sometimes barely manage to squeak past the litter of leaves on the forest floor. This one is a member of the parsley family, as you may have guessed by the foliage.

Lilies are perennial crowd-pleasers and white trout lily, Erythronium albidum, is no exception. Their pale ghostly blossoms are true works of art by any measure.

A botanical extrovert, the glaring showy face of one of our few native poppies, bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, beams forth. It almost seems a shame that these exquisite flowers last but a day.

A small bloodroot colony, their naked stems enwrapped by the poncho-like leaves. Later, the leaves will expand, and persist throughout summer.

Caught in the act of unfolding, one of the first wood poppies, Stylophorum diphyllum, of spring nestles in a bed of poppy foliage. Later, perhaps even by the time you read this, the hillside where I made this photo will have exploded into a sea of luminescent orange-yellow poppy flowers, stopping passersby dead in their tracks.

One of our most abundant spring wildflowers is yet another in the buttercup tribe, rue-anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides. Most flowers are stark white; others are a majestic shade of pinkish-purple.


Sharkbytes said…
Beautiful. Wildflowers in Ohio are amazing in the spring. Not that they are shabby here, but I think you have more variety.
Heather said…
Nice photos, Jim. I am so enjoying all the flowers coming up right now, and just the other day came across anemone and corydalis for the first time this season along our road. I must get out with my camera this weekend!
zippiknits said…
My grandparent's farm in Columbiana had a meadow and wood lot, and the most beautiful wildflowers from the wort family and a few others grew there,along a stream that was no more than a few inches deep. Also there were wild celery and onions. We always made marvelous looking mudpies, in season.

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…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…