Saturday, April 11, 2009

Take a walk with me

It's a beautiful spring afternoon, the native wildflowers are in bloom, and I have a blog post to write. Sounds like it's time to take a walk at the Cincinnati Nature Center. Wanna come along with me?
For peace and quiet, a road less traveled, and the best wildflowers, we have to leave the busy upland trails and descend into the valley. Let's take the Limestone Steps. Watch your footing!
The first flowers we see aren't wild at all, but are still an important part of CNC's legacy. Here is just one of millions of daffodils which grace the property and which are in full bloom today, just in time for Easter.
The first native flowers are Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica. These hardy plants form mass carpets
which line the path we walk.
Nothing beats the blue of their flowersunless it is the variations found in their buds.
It is a slow hike, since we keep stopping to admire the flowers, the view, and even the small fossils underfoot.
Probably the most common wildflower in bloom today, Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica, is everywhere.Even fighting its way up through the glossy leaves of the introduced invasive, Creeping Myrtle, Vinca minor, aka Common Periwinkle.

The path continues down, and so do we.The valley floor is in sight.
We're almost there -
Ah - we made it!

The Geology Trail follows Avery's Run, which is full and fast after all the recent rain. I had hoped we might find one of our earliest returning warblers today - Louisiana Waterthrush. This is prime habitat for them. Alas, we strike out. (After returning home, I discovered that the early morning CNC bird walk participants found four.)

The walk along Geology Trail is deceptively easy
giving us time to search among the invasive Lesser Celadine, Ranuculus ficaria, for some hidden native gems, like this Yellow Trout-lily, Erythronium americanum. The nodding flower faces the earth, making it hard for us to truly appreciate its beauty.
Uh, oh - what's that I see?
Remember that swift moving stream?
We are about to have a close encounter with it.
Are your feet still dry?
Good, because there is another stream crossing ahead.Watch out! Don't drop your camera
in the miniature rapids of Avery's Run!
Let's keep moving, we've got a lot more to see.

The only problem with going downhill is that eventually you have to go back up. Our reward for this effort will be some of the best wildflowers at CNC, here along the appropriately name Wildflower Trail.

Cutleaf Toothwort, Cardamine concatenata, greets us at the foot of the hill.
Is there anything sweeter than a violet?Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia

Yes, a whole group of them.
Or, a yellow violet, always a treat.
Downy Yellow Violet, Viola pubescens

The Bloodroot has gone to seedand the Mayapples are just coming on,but the Dutchman's Breeches are exploding.Can you see the tiny ant?

Its less common relative, Squirrel Corn can be found if we look hard enough.
I don't know about you, but I can't tell these two Dicentra apart by the foliage alone. I need the flower to make the ID.

One of my favorite wildflower groups is the Trillium family. Trillium have all their parts in threes - three leaves (actually bracts), three sepals, and three petals on their flowers. We have two of them at CNC, and lucky us, we find them both today.

Sessile Trillium, also called Toad Shade, can be identified without a flower by these spotted leafy bracts.
This is as much as the unusual dark red flower will open.There are scads of toadshades along our walk today, but we are about to discover a prize.Nodding (or Bent) Trillium, Trillium flexipes, with its nearly hidden bud. They are much less common at CNC. We only find three plants on Wildflower Trail. We meet a knowledgable flower lady who tells us that the deer are doing their best to eat every Nodding Trillium on the property. Sessile Trillium has a strong, unpleasant odor, and I presume it must taste equally bad to the deer.

And now, for that annual question - Rue Anemone or False Rue Anemone? Whose idea was it to give such lovely flowers such confusing names?

False Rue Anemone, Isopyrum biternatum

Rue Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides

Finally, just for my sister, who loves this sort of thing, a soft moss, up close and personal.
click on any image to enlarge

I hope you enjoyed our walk today.

***Edit, 4/13: Thanks to Jim McCormac for identification tips.


Susan Gets Native said...

I've noticed that your blog has become so much more visually appealing! I wonder why that is?

NCmountainwoman said...

Oh yes, I did enjoy the walk. I love our own wildflowers and it is very interesting to see those in other areas.

donaldthebirder said...

Nice to see spring. I so much need a natural cleansing of my soul. Seeing those pics of wildflowers makes me feel like I am looking at things I remember from a past life. I wished I had the time to go outside again.

MeLtAmOrFoSe said...

How beautiful are your pictures!


Lisa said...

Ooh, the moss is loooovely. (that last bit to be said with a Scots burr.)