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Monday, April 25, 2011

(Wild) Flower Day

Just off the Ohio River, up a creek that flows into the Ohio's backwater is a place where winter conceals buried treasure. Warm rains and the longer days of spring coax this treasure into the light.
Virginia bluebells (Martensia virginica)
It is a place where people reside in a remarkable landscape.  Undisturbed by grazing cattle,  and passing only one hay field, the creek meanders through a narrow pass, up a hollow where wildflowers burst forth in some of natures finest dressing. Virginia bluebells continue the whole length of the stream in patches running from dense patch to single plants.  While it is better to leave your car, it is not necessary.  Roadside banks display plants such as Squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis) and Dutchman's Britches (Dicentra cucullaria) co-mingling like the close cousins they are.
Dutchman's britches, like pantaloons hanging upside down, ballooning in a gentle breeze are pointed on the top . . . 
Dutchman's britches (Dicentra cucullaria)
. . .while the very similar Squirrel corn appears more as an elongated heart.
Squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis)
 These Spring ephemerals are easily confused - even their leaves look alike.  Ephemerals are the plants that bloom in early spring before the overhead tree canopy develops.  Their leaves develop, the flower does a quick bloom, seeds form and drop then just as quickly as they bloom they disappear ready to store their energy for next spring. 
Like many ephemerals, Squirrel corn and Dutchman's britches are spread by Myrmecochory which pretty much means "ant farming." Their white blossoms attract early pollinators while there is little competition from other bloomers. For a description of how this is done with a photo of the bee's bore hole, see HERE.  
Tomorrow, We'll travel further up the stream and see more wonders.


rebeccainthewoods said...

I've never seen Squirrel Corn - I kept an eye out for it last spring but I missed it. Can't wait to move back to a part of the country with real spring ephemerals. April in south Georgia is a disappointment for someone who grew up in the woods of Ohio!

Mike Whittemore said...

Squirrel corn and dutchman's breeches are among my favorite spring ephemerals! It's sad to see these already beginning to wither away for the year.

EG Wow said...

Just today I was in a local forest checking out the Dutchman's breeches...but they are not up yet. Nice to see yours though!

Debbie said...

this was quite the education for me. awesome photo's. debbie xo