Monday, March 30, 2020

The annual spring wildflower eruption commences!

As mentioned in the previous post, I journeyed to southern Ohio's Adams and Scioto counties last Thursday. It tuned out to be a fairly epic excursion, with many interesting finds. I even made some photos. While wildflowers were my primary quarry, I did find numerous notable insects and may post some of those later.

For now, here is a pictorial account of a March 26 trip to the Ohio River Valley and vicinity, and a smattering of the wildflowers that I saw. May it offer hope to those of you in northern tundra lands, like Cleveland.

One of our early-blooming native mustards, purple cress, Cardamine douglassii. The "Douglass" in the scientific epithet refers to David Douglass, who was president of Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio) from 1841-45. I love the photographic challenge of trying to portray these botanical elfins with my camera. This was one of many purple cress plants at the Ohio River Bluffs near Manchester in Adams County.

Another mustard, cut-leaved toothwort, Cardamine concatenata, In addition to beautifying our woodlands, it is a host plant for the falcate orangetip and West Virginia white butterflies.

A blue-eyed mary, Collinsia verna, just starting. The very first plants were putting forth flowers last Thursday in the Ohio River Valley of Adams County. This little annual will come on fast in the next week or so, and some populations can encompass many thousands of plants. A rich woods carpeted with this fantastic wildflower is one of spring's most magnificent botanical spectacles.

A true spring ephemeral wildflower, the yellow harlequin, Corydalis flavula. Low in stature, with tiny flowers, it can be easy to pass by. Gladys Riley Goldenstar Preserve, Scioto County.

A stunning buttercup, made all the more so by its habit of growing en masse, is dwarf larkspur, Delphinium tricorne. While many spring pollinator insects visit the showy flowers, it is thought that large bumblebees in the genus Bombus, and ruby-throated hummingbirds, are primary pollinators.

White trout lily, Erythronium albidum, were everywhere. I made this shot along a forest road in Shawnee State Forest, but saw them everywhere I went.

The bluebells, Mertensia virginica, were just coming on. By the time that you read this, hillsides along the Ohio River will be blanketed with blue. This species is easily one of our best known and most popular native wildflowers.

A personal favorite is Jacob's-ladder, Polemonium reptans, one of spring's most stunning wildflowers. It even has a specialist mining bee tied to it - Andrena polemonii. I would dearly love to catch one of those bees at its mothership flower.

The earliest of our trillia - excepting snow trillium, Trillium nivale - is this, the toadshade, or sessile trillium, T. sessile. It was already nearing peak bloom in places. It's always worth watching for the rare lemon-colored flower variants of this species.

A perfoliate bellwort, Uvularia perfoliata, still unfurling. We have three species of these liliaceous oddities. Another, the sessile-leaved bellwort, U. sessilifolia, is easily distinguished by its sessile (non-clasping) leaves. The other, large-flowered bellwort, U. grandiflora, is larger overall and the inner surface of the petals ("tepals", in lily-speak) lack the orange pubescence of this species.

Field pansy, Viola bicolor (synonym = V. rafinesquii) was already going strong in dry fields near the Ohio River. I also saw common blue violet, V. sororia, and downy yellow violet, V. pubescens. Violets are very much plants of spring, and these three lead the pack. Two dozen other species will follow in their wake.


Unknown said...

Thanks, Jim, for your excellent photos and succinct descriptions of the flowers. I find them helpful and use them for resources as I explore areas in the Shenandoah Valley. Continued blessings. Bruce

Bob said...

Our back yard in Green hills Ohio is loaded with the wild violets.


As always, click the image to enlarge At the onset of last Monday's aquatic expedition (perhaps more on that later) to Rocky Fork ...