Monday, April 15, 2013

An avalanche of wildflowers!

It's been a long cold winter, and I for one grew quite weary of snow and cold. But rest assured, spring has sprung and I have proof-positive photos. Last Sunday saw me in southernmost Ohio, along the Ohio River, where spring arrives considerably earlier than, say, Cleveland.
Enjoy, and if you live in points north, take hope. Spring is rolling your way.
Ohio's woodlands are increasingly blushed with green, causing some to remark on the embryonic leafout of certain trees as they cast an eye over forestscapes. At least as of yet, it isn't newly emergent leaves that are causing the flush of green - it's the collective flowers of blooming Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum. The individual flowers dangle on lengthy pedicels, as if attached to strings controlled by a marionette hidden in the buds.

This beautiful treelet is a sure sign of spring, and a welcome sight for sore eyes. Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, is just hitting its stride. It's one of the first woody plants in the forest to burst into bloom. Later, the plants will be festooned with sugary berries that are a Cedar Waxwing's addiction.

A bonafide crowd-pleaser, the tiny Blue-eyed Mary, Collinsia verna. This diminutive annual often forms large drifts - carpets, really - and a streamside forest so endowed is an unforgettable spectacle.

Up close and personal, the flowers have a distinctive charm, and should capture the fancy of anyone with a camera.

A much less conspicuous spring wildflower is the Trailing Arbutus, Epigaea repens. I once came across an old article from an Ohio botanist describing its rarity. Trailing Arbutus is certainly not rare, at least in certain quarters - it's just easy to overlook. The foliage of this trailing heath is evergreen, and by flowering time in early spring the leaves are looking rather ratty and undistinguished. One must move in close and peek under the old leaves to see the flowers, which are often in hiding.

There's no missing this purple stunner. I would say that, architecturally, the flowers of the Dwarf Larkspur, Delphinium tricorne, are among my favorite. They resemble a witch's hat. This buttercup family representative often grows in profusion in rich woods.

An artful palette of color indeed. The golden flowers of Wood Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum, are in the foreground. A wand or two of purple larkspur flowers rise beyond the poppies, and the backdrop is framed with one of our most sensational spring wildflowers.

I visited a steep wooded slope right along the Ohio River that was carpeted blue with Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica. Luckily for me, they were in absolute peak bloom - acres of the plants! The window for such eye candy is brief. Bluebells are among our most ephemeral wildflowers, and quickly wither to nothingness after putting on their sensational blue show.

Even individually, a bluebell is a striking plant. Seen in masses of thousands, they are shocking in the best possible way, and herald spring's arrival beyond any doubt.

1 comment:

jaredmizanin said...

More, more! I'm learning to love spring woodland wildflowers and am eager to explore the woodlands in the coming weeks to see what we have up here. Unfortunately, I am not seeing that beautiful larkspur on the Cleveland Metroparks checklist. Really does resemble a witch's hat!

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