Friday, April 15, 2011
What's Doing the Blooming Today?
The snow is finally ALL gone from the Skidmore woods, and the English Violets have opened their pristine white blossoms at last. Note that the lower petals do not have the dark stripes typical of most violets, although the rear spur is tinged with purple. This is the white variety of the normally dark-purple Viola odorata, an introduced species whose Latin name gives a clue to one of its distinguishing characteristics, its exquisite fragrance.
The Victorian ladies whose mansions once lined the carriage roads that run through the Skidmore woods would carry nosegays of these beautiful flowers, although they probably preferred the purple variety, which are even more fragrant. I found a large patch of the purple variety on the other side of the campus, still in bud today, but deliciously fragrant even though the petals were not quite open.
Also blooming at Skidmore today was Leatherwood, a sprawling understory shrub that seems to like damp soil. The end of each twig bears one fuzzy bud that contains three pale-yellow trumpets dangling down, long stamens protruding well below the blossoms.
On another shrub, the pistils were protruding even further than the stamens.