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.
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.
|Virginia bluebells (Martensia virginica)|
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."