Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Flowers

Blue Jay Barrens is not the place to be if you want to see masses of spring wildflowers carpeting the woodland floor.  A history of livestock in the woods reduced the wildflower population through trampling and consumption.  The soil was left eroded and compacted which made it hard for the wildflowers to become reestablished.  More recently, deer and turkey have been feeding on many of the wildflowers.  White Trout Lilies are currently the most widely spread species in the woods.  These are growing in an area that was pretty heavily worked over by the turkey flocks.

Spring Beauty is one species that is increasing in number.  It seems to do best along the woodland edges where sunlight is more readily available.

Rue Anemone is common on the lower slopes and floodplains.  This is always one of the earliest species to bloom each year.  The plant moves with the slightest breeze, making it a most frustrating flower to photograph.

Most of the Blue Jay Barrens woodland wildflowers appear later in the spring.  Even when the rest of the State is reporting early blooms, the plants here are slow to awaken.  I’m seeing signs of things to come.  Leaves of the American Columbo are pushing up through the leaves.  Columbo flowers won’t appear until early summer.

Large Flowered Trilliums are rapidly emerging.  The heavy rain that caused the severe flooding earlier in the month also cleared leaf litter from some of the steep hillsides.  These Trilliums are quite conspicuous growing from the bare ground.

It’s neat how this plant emerges as a spike and then unfurls its leaves after it has some height.  This growth pattern is common with many woodland plants that must push through a covering of leaves to reach the light.

One of the first bloomers of the year has already produced fruit.  Two weeks ago, Leavenworthia uniflora was just beginning to bloom.  Now it’s well on its way to producing ripe seed.  Cool weather usually slows the plant’s development so you have a couple of weeks in which to enjoy watching the flowers develop.  Temperatures in the 80’s caused the plants to flower together and push on to fruit development in just a matter of days.  I hope things aren’t going to proceed at such a rapid pace all season.

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