In the bottomland along a nearby stream is an area of large older trees, a rich woodland full of sugar maple, red oak and wildflowers. Its deep fertile soils support an abundance of those early spring wildflowers that emerge, flower, set seed and store enough sugars and starches to last them until next spring before the trees’ leaves fully emerge – they're called spring ephemerals.
This is one of those areas well worth walking through; it will be a slow walk, one with much stopping and bending down – and in my case kneeling with camera in hand.
Never have I seen such a profusion of trout-lily as were in bloom in mid-April of this year. In the Big Woods an hour’s walk will take you past tens of thousands of trout-lily leaves with nary a flower to be seen, but here an hour’s walk passes hundreds and hundreds of blooming trout-lily. Enjoy –
Interspersed with the trout lily are scattered Dutchman’s breeches, named for their supposed resemblance to a pair of pantaloons with a yellow waistband –
And then there are the purple trilliums, also known as wakerobin –
Did you notice the ant on the flower in the last photo? Purple trillium are heavily dependent on ants for their reproduction, although this ant is rushing things a bit. Trillium seeds have a sweet coating that’s very attractive to ants which tote the seeds back to their nest. Having eaten the sweet coating, the ants carry the seeds out to the area where they dump soil and waste from their tunnels – and thus the seeds are planted.
If you come to an area like this a day too late you’ll miss the blooming of the bloodroot, which got its name from the bright red fluid exuded from a broken root; you might miss the blooming of bloodroot if you're late, for its flowers last only a day or two –
The earliest of violets also bloom at the same time, the sweet white violet –
The round-leaved yellow violet –
And the great-spurred violet –
A few days further into spring and a new cohort of wildflowers will be in bloom.