Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Progress Report, April 13

Sorry, dear readers, I've just been too busy to blog much this week, running all over the county (and beyond) to stay abreast of all that is happening in the woods.  But I've finally sorted through all the daunting hundreds of photos I took (most of them discards), so now I can file this report on what's doing the blooming.

On Wednesday, I stopped by the Orra Phelps Nature Preserve on my way to the Hudson River at Moreau.  In a dampish area along the trail, masses of  Dog Violets were just starting to open their pale lavender blooms.  This is one of our "stemmed" violets, with flowers and leaves both sprouting from the same stem, distinguishing it from our Common Blue Violet, which has basal leaves only and a leafless flower stem.

On a higher and dryer bank further on, I found the Dutchman's Breeches dangling their little white pantaloons.  In a few days, those yellow tips will open and spread to allow the bumblebees to insert their long proboscises into the nectaries deep inside the blossoms.

A surprising find in a nature preserve renowned for its native flora, this Siberian Squill, a horticultural species, must have escaped from some neighboring flower garden.  Let's hope that it knows how to mind its company manners and not take over the woods, as introduced species are often wont to do.

 The Periwinkle is just such a species of introduced plant that has taken to our native woodlands way too happily.   There's no question that it's a beautiful plant, bearing abundant blooms of the loveliest blue.

 The problem is, that wherever Periwinkle grows, absolutely no other flower is allowed to share its ground.  In this thoroughly periwinkled patch of woods that borders the Hudson River at Moreau, not a violet nor trillium nor Jack-in-the-pulpit can be found for acres around.

On Thursday I joined the Thursday Naturalists on a trip to a nature preserve south of Albany (an adventure that will be described in a separate post), and today, Friday,  I went for a walk through the Skidmore Woods.  This particular woods, with its limey soils, is famous for its wonderful array of spring ephemerals, including many different species of violets.  The first ones I came across today were the beautiful Long-spurred Violets, snuggled into crannies of the many boulders that form the forest substrate.  These violets can be quite pale in color, almost as if all their color had run to pool in dark patches at the center.

Another violet blooming today was the Downy Yellow Violet, with an obviously downy stem.

Dwarf Ginseng was just beginning to open its clusters of tiny white flowers.  Unlike its much larger cousin that is sought after for medicinal uses and which persists into the fall, this tiny plant will completely disappear soon after its blooming period ends.

Wood Anemone held its pristine white flowers completely open to the warm sun today.  If a chill descends, or clouds cover the sky, those blooms will retreat into their pinkish bud covers.

The purplish-brown variety of Blue Cohosh bloomed last week (and continues blooming still), but this variety with greener flowers was just opening today. 

My botanist friends cannot all agree upon whether we have two species, or just some variations. Some botanical sites I've visited indicate that the earlier bloomers with consistently purple flowers are Caulophyllum giganteum, while this one, which opens a little later with flowers that are assuredly green, is C. thalictoides.   In all other respects except flower color and blooming time, the plants appear identical.

Mayapple has pushed its tightly folded umbrellas up from the earth.  The fully mature plants that have two leaves will bear a flower (and later, a fruit), the bud of which can be seen peeking out from between the still-folded leaves.

In a couple of weeks, stunning masses of Large-flowered White Trilliums will cover large areas of the woods.  For the present, we have to search to find the much more solitary Red Trillium, which tends to hide its pretty face by bending downward under its leaves.  I confess that I lifted this bloom up and placed it atop its leaves, the better to capture its vivid color in a photograph.

The odd weather this spring has played tricks with the normal schedule of bloom for many spring flowers, with many blooming far earlier than ever before.  The recent stretch of much colder weather has slowed that process considerably, so that many early bloomers are still with us.  The Bloodroot, for example, which usually comes and goes in a few brief days, is still coming up and opening its sweet sunny faces all over the woods.

The Trout Lilies have just exploded into bloom from when I reported finding just one or two a few days ago.  Now they carpet some areas of the woods so thickly it's impossible to walk among them.  I hope those darned Red-necked False Blister Beetles finally get their fill of lily pollen and leave some of those lovely crimson anthers alone.

Speaking of crimson, the maple trees are now unfolding their bunches of tiny red leaves.  What a sight it is, when these translucent leaves catch the sunlight and glow like stained glass.

This Red Maple tree stands in front of my house, where the sight of its vivid red boughs against that deep blue sky just took my breath away as I arrived home today.


threecollie said...

What glorious photos! Love the maple leaves especially.

Ian said...

again an amazing display of stunning photos; well done.

KaHolly said...

Just beautiful. Ahhh, sweet spring!

Wayne said...

Thanks for another wonderful addition of what is for me "The Nature News"! That shot of the red maple leaves glowing against the black background is striking. Enjoyed your ramp photos in the new Conservationist magazine(look for a picture of me with my grandkids in the same isssue.)

Adirondackcountrygal said...

Your photos are wonderful, I have one Siberian squill volunteer plant in my yard under a white pine. I'm wondering if I should leave it be or if it would be ok to transplant into a sunnier location. No one can see it where it is right now.

Woodswalker said...

Thanks for all your nice comments, folks.

And yes, Wayne, I sure did see your photo with grandkids in The Conservationist, along with more of your glorious photos.

Regarding the Squill, ADKgal, I'm thinking that this plant may actually prefer light shade, since I have never seen it grow anywhere except in the woods. But I'm no expert gardener.

hikeagiant2 said...

Your photos are translucent - beautiful!