Monday, April 18, 2011

This is a post about wildflowers

My current situation with wildflowers is very similar to my situation with birds -- there are a decent number of species that I know really well, but there are a ton more that I don't know at all. So this summer I have decided that I will not only be learning new birds, I will also be learning wildflowers.

The Trout Lily in my post yesterday is one flower that I know very well, having grown up paying attention to it, but when I was back into the woods this morning (I'm insatiable), I found two flowers that were completely new to me. Usually I do most of my identifying (of wildflowers or birds or anything else) online -- the Connecticut Botanical Society has a pretty expansive wildflower guide with lots of pictures, for example. But today the internet failed me, and as it turned out, I was only able to identify these plants at all by turning to my copy of Central Appalachian Wildflowers (2002) by Barbara and Victor Medina.

Yep, this is my grandparents' wildflower book (one of two, actually), and using it today brought back good memories of going on wildflower walks with them when I was little. This book has sat on my shelf for years, and I'm very happy to finally have a chance to find out how extremely useful it is. :P (Mini-trivia: This book was a full family endeavor, and I actually have credit for doing the illustrations, which I believe technically makes me a published artist -- how crazy is that?)

Anyway, where was I? Right, flowers:

This one is Dwarf Ginseng, as best as I can tell -- most of the pictures of this species I've seen show an upright, perky plant, rather than the slouched individuals I found pushing their way up out of the ground today, but the overall shape of the leaves and flowers is right, so Dwarf Ginseng is what I'm calling it. This plant was teeny-tiny, only about an inch or two high, with its little cluster of white flowers just starting to open. I imagine it'll look more impressive in a few days, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of spring in the works.

I've noticed these bushes in the woods before with their floating yellow buds, and today the flowers were open. This is a Spicebush, and besides being bright and pretty, this plant is apparently home (i.e. food) for a couple of very cool butterflies and moths (food for their caterpillars, that is) during the summer. I'll have to keep an eye out for these creatures as the year progresses. :)

There are so many things in the world to learn! But that's good, really -- it just means that I'll always have something new to discover. :)

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