Monday, February 1, 2010

January Woodland Greens

I realize that it’s February, but these pictures were taken in January. Like the prairies, there’s still a lot of woodland plant growth to be found in the dead of winter. Maybe we should start calling it the Alive of Winter. This is Spotted Wintergreen, a lovely plant made even more beautiful by a backdrop of snow. Cold doesn’t seem to bother this guy.

Leaves of the Puttyroot. This orchid develops a single leaf in the fall. The leaf persists through the winter, but usually disappears before the plant blooms in the late spring. Plants of the woodland floor need to take advantage of the sunlight when it’s available. Once the trees develop leaves, these plants will lose contact with their energy source.

Jacob’s Ladder takes advantage of any winter warm-up to add leaves to an expanding basal rosette. When sunlight hours increase in the spring, the leaves will elongate and the plant will prepare to bloom.

Ragworts grow anywhere from fully exposed locations to the thickest woodland and they grow year round. This plant has to be a champion at exploiting new habitat.

Diarrhena grass is beginning to send shoots up through the leaf litter. Last year’s dead stalk can be seen between the two green shoots.

Some Bedstraws make their way into the sunlight. I think this is probably Sweet-scented Bedstraw, a common woodland species.

There are several species of upland sedges currently producing new leaves. I’m not sure what species this might be. I’m looking forward to having time to study plant identification in more detail. It looks like Blue Jay Barrens can still provide plenty of ID challenges to keep me busy.

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