Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Flowers burst forth!

Spring is said to advance northward at a clip of about 16 miles a day. So take heart, ye tundra-people of Cleveland and other points north - you'll get some floriferous action soon enough.

The plants are really popping in southernmost Ohio, and the evidence follows in pictorial form. I was roaming throughout Adams and Scioto counties - Ohio River counties - last Sunday, where I made these images.

I was deep in Shawnee State Forest bright and early, hoping to create some bird images. The 29 F temperature kept the feathered crowd fairly inactive, though. As the sun gradually warmed things a bit, activity increased. There were plenty of kinglets, both Ruby-crowned (above) and Golden-crowned. Louisiana Waterthrushes were back in force, as were Yellow-throated Warblers. Pine Warblers were on territory, and a smattering of Black-and-white Warblers and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were back as well. I also heard the first Broad-winged Hawk of the season (for me).

However, I pointed the lens at flowers, mostly. This is not a native, I know, but Colt's-foot, Tussilago farfara, is a showstopper when looked at in this way. This Eurasian weed of rocky roadsides and embankments is very early to flower, and was nearly done.

A beautiful clump of Twisted Sedge, Carex torta, graces a small stream in Scioto County. Sedges in the genus Carex are easily the largest group, by genus, of Ohio plants with over 160 species. They are extremely important ecologically, even if few people can identify most of them. Twisted Sedge is vital to streamside ecology; it stabilizes gravel bars and streambanks. The dark spikes are the staminate (male) flowers, the pistillate (female) flowers are greenish, more elongate, and droop below the staminate flowers.

A vertical limestone cliff face along the Ohio River in Adams County was liberally draped with this showiest of native vines, the Cross-vine, Bignonia capreolata. You may be more familiar with its close relative, Trumpet-creeper, Campsis radicans.

The delicate little Common Woodrush, Luzula multiflora, was beginning to bloom everywhere, and I noticed a few of these flies habitually visiting the flowers.  This was interesting to me, as conventional wisdom states that most members of the Rush Family (Juncaceae) are wind-pollinated. These monocotyledonous plants have very simple flowers, devoid of the gaudiness often associated with entomophilous flowers (those that need to attract insect pollinators). Yet these little flies were working over the woodrush blooms, and one can see the pollen sticking to the insect in this photo.

Speaking of gaudy flowers, here's one, the Bird's-foot Violet, Viola pedata. It was just beginning to bloom, and visitors to Shawnee State Forest this weekend and the next should find it in good form.

This is the antithesis of a gaudy flower, even though it belongs to a family revered for its showiness. It is Mousetail, Myosurus minimus, a member of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae).  It's in full bloom. The elongate green spikes are the fruit. Tiny whitish petals can be seen at the base of some of the fruit stalks - those are the flowers. Mousetail is a curious plant that in Ohio is known from only a few low-lying, vernally saturated pools in fields along big rivers (the Ohio River, in this case).

I was pleased to find this beautiful wild onion in flower near the village of Manchester in Adams County. It is known as False Garlic, Nothoscordum bivalve, and it is listed as threatened in Ohio. There is a smattering of populations in the general area of Adams County where I made this image, and a rather distant site in Clark County.

I finished the day at a spectacular wooded slope along the Ohio River just west of Manchester. The Dwarf Larkspur, Delphinium exaltatum, was at peak and painted the hillside purple. Many other species of wildflower accompanied it, but the larkspur overpowered all comers. This species, by the way, is in the same family as the aforementioned Mousetail. Given Homo sapiens' general propensity for showy superficiality, I suspect most would prefer gaping at the scene above than wallowing in muddy fields scouring about for tiny and obscure Mousetails, and I suppose they couldn't be blamed.


Sue said...

I sure do love that shot of the dwarf larkspur. I bet that was quite a sight

Auralee said...

If these photos don't make your heart sing
your heart is made of stone.

Schattenjager said...


Cynthia said...

Gorgeous photos. I especially loved the cross-vine. I didn't know that False Garlic was an endangered plant. Appreciate the info.