Sunday, May 18, 2008

Field Trip! Forest Wild Flowers

I have a not-so-attractive sloping, shady strip on the north side of my house, where I've been slowly removing the vinca and mulching it over in preparation for turning it into a shady woodland garden full of native plants. So it was all I could do to restrain myself from sharpening a stick into a digging implement and digging up a whole bunch of the beautiful plants that I saw last Thursday out in the McDonald-Dunn Forest.

I was leading a field trip for a biology lab, where students were to go out with tape measures and plant guides and do some basic vegetative survey. As I trotted up and down the trail, supervising the students at work (okay, mostly work -- one student decided it was a good time to chat with someone on his cell phone), I snapped some pictures of some of the forest plants.

There was, of course, a particularly noxious hazard to contend with: Poison-oak. It was everywhere, both in its "don't mind me, I'm not really here" small shrubby form, and it its enthusiastic vining form, scrambling up tree trunks.

On a prettier note, there's the lovely yellow Wood Violet, also called the Pioneer violet (Viola glabella):
Vanilla leaf (Achlys tryphylla) was in bloom:
Pathfinder (Adenocaulon bicolor) is an interesting specimen. Normally it has these arrow-shaped dark green leaves like this:
but if someone walks through a patch of it, some of the leaves flip over, leaving white arrows pointing the way the person walked:

The leaves of rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia) are more interesting than its spike of inconspicuous white flowers. This native orchid wasn't in bloom quite yet.
Solomon's seal (Smilacina racemosa) has such terrific foliage that it makes a great woodland plant even when it's not in bloom. The white plume is lovely, too.

Trillium ovatum has white petals when it opens, but the petals turn purple as the flower ages:

And the best of all, spotted at the very end of the trek, tiny and barely noticeable in the foliage: Calypso bulbosa, the pretty little Calypso orchid, barely two inches from the ground to the tips of its petals:


A rootdigger said...

wow, i WISH THAT werr my Wi. woods. I found the yellow violet with smaller flower in my side yard. I had never seen one before.
Mother in law told me that lilies of the valley used to grow wild by the streams herein Wi.

Lee said...

Smilicina is false solomons seal. Polygonatum is the better form. Greedy people like myself have both!