Wednesday, May 13, 2009

West Virginia Wildflowers

Spring wildflowers - those too-quickly passing beauties one finds in the woods in the eastern USA. I love them, and am always excited to see them, both my old friends and the new species I haven't met before. We had plenty of both on our field trips during the New River Birding and Nature Festival.

While walking down the hill on the Sugar Creek trail, I kept my back to the trees and my ears open for bird song and the excited calls of birders: "Yellow-throated Vireo nest! Worm-eating Warbler!" My eyes were on the opposite bank, scouting for wildflowers I had seen on my previous trek. I was not disappointed.

A sweet violet. I don't know the exact species, violets usually stymie me. I tend to group them into three categories: White, yellow, and blue. This one, as you can see, is blue.

Perfoliate bellflower. Perfoliate means "through the leaves" and you can easily see how the flower stalk pierces the leaf. Cool!

I have a special place in my heart for trilliums. (trillia?) This one is Trillium grandiflora, Large Flowered Trillium, the state wildflower of Ohio.

I don't remember ever seeing this trillium before. Depending on what source you read, it is alternately called "Red Trillium," "Purple Trillium," or Wakerobin, which I prefer.

Trillium erectum is usually dark red, but rarely may be found in yellow or white. The flower is said to have a bad smell, just like the similar-colored Sessile Trillium, Trilliuim sessile, also called Toadshade, with which I am much more familiar.

Sessile Trillium,
Cincinnati Nature Center

We also saw a creamy-yellow flowered trillium, but I didn't get a decent photo of it. I found a "Yellow Trillium," Trillium luteum, in one of my field guides, but I don't think that was what we found. The photos I found on line showed the flower on a short stalk, with mottled leaves, similar to Toadshade. What we saw was taller, with an erect flower. Someone on the trip said "Nodding Trillium," but I'm thinking maybe they meant Drooping Trillium. Any ideas?

One of my old friends, Jack-in-the-pulpit.
Like Mayapple, Jack-in-the-pulpit plants come in male or female. If the plant has one leaf, it is male and will not flower. Female plants have two leaves, to provide enough energy for flowering. "It takes a lot of energy to be female." Harriet Clark, retired CNC naturalist

On our Granberrry Glades trip, we got to see some unique bog plants.

Marsh Marigold

Bog Rosemary

Pitcher Plants

Definitely worth a close-up, Pitcher Plants are carnivorous. Attracted to the necter-like bait, insects are trapped when they slip below the upper lip. This part of the flower is covered in fine hair-like structures which point down, preventing insects from crawling back out. The hapless victim is then slowly digested in the liquid at the bottom of the pitcher.

click to enlarge to see the fine "hairs"

These leaves were all over the bog.

Do you know the name of this plant?

I thought perhaps we were too late to get the flower, but we lucked out.

A bud and emerging leaf.

Fully in flower.

This is Skunk Cabbage. This plant blooms in late winter, and it can generate enough heat to melt
the snow above the emerging flower. Skunk cabbage blooms stink like rotting meat, in order to attract the ground beetles it needs to pollinate its odd flower.

I only got one wildflower on the Muddlety trip. I was too busy looking at birds, and photographing efts, dew-coated cobwebs, and my fellow birders to do much botanizing.

Golden Ragwort

During our High Country trip, we were a bit too early to catch Painted Trillium in bloom, but I took plenty of photos of it in bud.

Trillium undulatum

A new friend that day, Halberd-leaved Violet.
We were introduced by a mutual friend, Laura. Isn't that what travel is all about? Seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

1 comment:

Lynne said...

I really didn't get much for wildflowere pictures. In fact, even though I took gobs of pix, I didn't take as many as I thought I would.

Kathi- would you send me a copy of your header photo? I love it.