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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

See Me! No, See Me!

Jacob's Ladder?
Greek Valerian brings back memories of the beginning.  One of my first wildflowers, it was given to me, wrapped in tin foil, by the teacher of the first wildflower class I attended thirty years ago.  Along with a Giant trillium, Greek Valerian was planted on my "wildflower trail" later moved to become the foundation of an ever-increasing flower garden. The trillium remains and has prospered but the lovely blue bells of Greek valerian were not suited to the spot I chose.  Jacob's ladder is another name often given to Greek Valerian though I've also heard that they are different plants. I've seen them officially identified together and separately. I'm new at some of this so must study it some more.  For now I will just enjoy the pale blue clusters in this wildflower haven.

This plant held its identity secret for longer than most.  The problem was those serrated edges.  The books being used by members of our group showed a similar plant but with rounded leaves.  Finally, Susan dove deep into the trunk of her car and retrieved her copy of Flora of West Virginia by P.D. Strausbaugh and Earl L. Core, printed by Seneca Books, Inc.  This book has every plant known to grow in West Virginia and as Susan said, "Ohio is close enough." Her quest to identify this white beauty distracted her through a couple stops, probably causing her to miss several bird songs. She did it though and with a great sigh of relief. I've tried to find the same identification because I don't remember the whole name of the elusively named plant. but it is a corn salad, a type of Valerianella.  To be honest, I can't match it with the description in my book. Most corn salads have smooth leaves and I remember Susan said that the toothed leaves were what made this one so hard to identify. But she showed it to me in Flora of West Virginia, clearly described and shown in precise black line drawings and now I've forgotten. Maybe I'm all mixed up. Hopefully one of my readers will be able to help me.

Our  next find was much easier.  Like most of the species we found this day, the wild hyacinth, Camassia scilloides, (below) was only inches away from other blooming species. Several wild hyacinths were blooming, but my camera lens was attracted to these buds, clinging together like tightly wrapped velvet pods clenched, resisting their wake-up call from the sun radiating overhead.  The blossoms, when open, were more gray than lavender with just enough color to keep them from being white.
The whelming abundance brings out the ADHD tendencies in us all.  We flit from flower to flower and page to page in our field guides. As a few of us bend over a new specimen, we hear a shout, "Hey! Come see this!" The group breaks apart as some of us cannot resist running across the road to check out another plant.  Every now and then the warning, "Car!" awakes us from deep concentration taking us away from petal counting and leaf measurement long enough to step off the narrow pavement.

A dark bluish purple larkspur draws my attention. "Over here! Look at me!"
Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I am enjoying your garden photos.