Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Inches North

At first sight, the Skidmore Woods still looked winter-brown today, no haze of soft green in the treetops, nor carpets of wildflowers spreading across the forest floor.  Lately, the days have reverted to colder than normal, with nights hovering just above freezing,  so I wasn't expecting to find spring much further advanced since I was here last week.

But I hadn't gone more than a few steps into the woods before I saw the first of many Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) nodding their bright-yellow heads.

Fat purple stalks of Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum giganteum) held unfurling leaves and unfolding flowers, with rings of anthers bright against the dark sepals.

Most of the dark-brown Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) flowers were hidden beneath the bright-green leaves, but I did find one or two whose bulbous furry blooms were visible.

Mayapples (Podophylum peltatum) had thrust their folded-umbrella leaves well above the leaf-litter, with the single flower bud peeking above the leaves like a chick from its nest.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) was enjoying its brief moment in the sun.  I could find no trace of these sunny little flowers last week, but today they were already dropping their snowy-white petals if I so much as breathed on them. 

In a week or so, I expect to see hundreds of Long-spurred Violets (Viola rostrata) lining the path and nestling among the rocks, but today I found but a single one, of a most unusual mottled coloration.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is sometimes called Wild Forsythia because its branches hold colorful tufts of yellow flowers that bloom before the leaves open. The name Spicebush is suggested by the spicy fragrance its twigs exude when bruised.

Here's a closer look at those Spicebush flowers.

Hundreds of Hepatica (Hepatica nobilus) still starred the forest floor, most in shades of white to palest lavender.   This robust cluster displayed a deeper tone of lavender in its flowers, with leaves that were mottled a beautiful purple and green.

Those mottled leaves in the photo above are left over from last year, having wintered-over under the snow.  They will soon start to shrivel and disappear as the season's new leaves begin to unfold beneath the blooming flowers. As fuzzy as bunny slippers, they reveal how well-prepared this plant is to endure the coldest of springs.


The Furry Gnome said...

Wonderful group of photos. You always seem to get them so clear. I'm looking forward to the same things, but in think I have another week or two to wait yet. Leading a wildflower walk in mid-May, so I hope they're all in bloom by then!

catharus said...

Lovely story and photos -- particularly the bloodroot!!!

Julie said...

Great post. I saw some Trout Lilies and Bloodroot on my hike the other day. Thought I was going to have to pull out my identification book to name them, but didn't need to after seeing this! Thanks.

Cincinnatus C. said...

Thanks for this lovely blog. I got here by way of google images, trying to identify what turned out to be trout lilies, and as a bonus found out that the curious tree-like things I had wondered about were Mayapples.