Sunday, April 20, 2008

CNC Wildflowers and Ornamentals

One of the joys of my life is walking the trails at the Cincinnati Nature Center in spring. Every week, something new is in bloom. The legacy of Carl Rowe's garden shows everywhere, in the thousands of daffodils and other ornamental flowers and trees.

But, the real beauty of CNC in the spring is more subtle and requires more effort to find and appreciate. Ohio's native wildflowers are an ephemeral gift, one that you have to go looking for. Miss a week, and you miss a bloom that won't return for another year.

The niche of a tree trunk holds a tiny and fleeting garden.

I've missed the Bloodroot's white flower.
And the White Trout Lilies have already gone to seed.
But, I found a big patch of Virginia Bluebells

To truly appreciate bluebells, you have to get down low and look up.
Dutchman's Breeches are drying on minature clotheslines throughout the woods.

The Sessile (or Toadshade) Trilium, with its dark red flower, is in full boom.
And the Nodding (or Bent) Trilium has leafed out. It will bloom a white, hanging flower later in the season.
I found Wild Ginger in a few places, and even this early bud just breaking the surface. Its
dark reddish-brown flower will be right at ground level. You have to part the leaves to find this cryptic wildflower.
Mayapples are up in force, and I found several plants with buds.
Mayapples have to have two leaves to bloom.
A single umbrella-like leaf doesn't provide enough nutrients to produce a flower.
As a (woman) naturalist once told me, "It takes a lot of energy to be female."

Blue and yellow violets. There are too many species of violets for me to get any closer on their names.

Cut-leaved Toothwort

Wild Blue Pholox

Spring Beauty
* * *

I love the daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs that were introduced to CNC by its original owners. Even though they don't belong here, they are cheery, and not aggressive. However, there is one plant which was introduced, accidentally or deliberately, depending on which story you believe, that I abhor.

Lesser celandine is a European native, often considered a harbinger of spring there. Here, it is an invasive alien that carpets the ground with a thick mat and chokes out all my favorite little natives.

Although the hillside might look pretty cloaked in green, by late spring this leafy cover will all die back, leaving the slope denuded and prone to erosion.

And, because it emerges so early, it overwhelms the native plants.
False Rue Anemone (white flower) surrounded by Lesser Celandine (yellow)

Dutchman's Breeches, swallowed up by celandine.

Sessile Trilium, ditto

Virginia bluebells in a sea of Lesser Celandine

This is what an Ohio wooded hill should look like in spring:


Trixie said...

WOW! I want to go to CNC with you in the spring. Girl, you are a smartie! Thanks for the peek at some spring wildflowers. I LOVE those breeches.

Mary said...

All lovely, but I can't get past those VA Blue Bells. Gorgeous.

Susan Gets Native said...

Spring is CNC's best season. I hate all the celandine, too.

When in the Hell did you become a botanist?

KatDoc said...


I am only a botanist within that very specialized niche called "Spring wildflowers in Ohio." Anything else confounds me.


Lisa said...

And even then she is sometimes flummoxed. :)

Hey, I would never have thunk it from the picture, but those little blue daisy-like things are indeed apparently an anemone.

Pretty, pretty, pretty. I wish I was there.

KGMom said...

Katdoc--this is one of the loveliest blog posts I have ever read. The photos are wonderful--and it is so great to see wildflowers featured.