Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spring Wildflower Report: Early Edition

Pitcher Plants in the Pennington Bog
Back in April, I visited the Pennington Bog, to get a sense of what it looks like early in the spring. The mossy floor of the bog was coming back to life, and I happened upon some pitcher plants. 

While I was there, I tested out my GPS app and my external battery. I actually wandered far enough into the bog to really need the GPS:  at one point, I felt a bit lost. But the app worked, and it got me headed in the right direction. I'm looking forward to getting back into the bog during Memorial Day weekend.
It's easy to get lost when you're walking
through miles of this!

Now that it's May, the spring wildflowers are starting to appear. Below is a sampling of what I've seen so far...Most of the photos were taken at Jay Cooke State Park.

Bloodroot as it's just sprouting up

It's been a great week for Bloodroot. I've found lots of it, and I feel lucky to have gotten so many shots--the flowers only bloom for a few days. 
Bloodroot flower almost fully open

I've really enjoyed seeing this flower through all the stages of its short life. It's one of the first significant flowers to come up through all the dead vegetation left over from the fall.

Bloodroot colony past its peak
Bloodroot colony in bloom
Hepatica is another early flower, and Jay Cooke State Park is carpeted with clusters of them. They're small and a bit hard to see against all the dead leaves, especially in strong sunlight, but if you get close, they're really beautiful.
Hepatica, one of the earliest flowers
More Hepatica...
Macro-lens shot of Hepatica

And then there's Wild Ginger, which is also plentiful at Jay Cooke. Its flower is at ground level, and unless you're looking for it, you might never notice it. Each year, I try to get a better, closer view of the inside of the flower.
Wild Ginger
Macro-lens shot of Wild Ginger flower
The Marsh Marigolds were just at the beginning stages of flowering. Mostly, I saw buds. I love the shape and colors of the leaves, though.
Marsh Marigold buds
Marsh Marigold
The Spring Beauties were also in full bloom at Jay Cooke. It's easy, from a distance, to mistake them for Hepatica, but the leaves are very different.
Spring Beauties
Below is Sessile Bellwort, a lovely little flower I also see along the Munger Trail. I find it very difficult to get good photos of it because it's so small and it hangs downward.

Sessile Bellwort
I only saw one Trout Lily in bloom, but I saw thousands of leaves in the Park. I'm hoping to see many more of these flowers this weekend.
Trout Lily--they've just barely begun to bloom. You can see a bit of distortion on the edges of this shot from the macro lens.
Earlier in the spring, I kept encountering a mushroom called Scarlet Cup. I'd never seen it until this spring. They seem to be everywhere at Jay Cooke.
Scarlet Cup
Scarlet Cups
I won't be on campus tomorrow. I'm helping to chaperone the 8th-grade Geocaching Adventure at Gooseberry Falls State Park. (Thanks to Mr Diener for asking me to come along!) I'm hoping to take more such photos there...After the rain we've had recently, I expect the Park will be quite lush with greenery and fully alive with beauty. 

The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty of spring. It feeds my soul. When I was younger, spring seemed like an annoying inconvenience, a painfully-long prelude to summer. Now, spring moves far too fast for me. I want to slow it down so I can measure and appreciate each green inch of new life coming up out of the earth, pushing through all the dead leftovers of autumn. I hope all of you, too, can get out this weekend and enjoy the spring.

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