Friday, April 29, 2016

Woodland Gems from the Forest Floor

Dog Violets, despite being their somewhat sparse growth compared to other members of the Violet family, they still lend a bit of color to the forest floor.         
Once upon a time, while strolling through the woods (wait a sec, this isn't a Fairy Tale, it's a true story).  There was a time – albeit long ago - when I seldom, if ever, gave a second thought to the plant growth springing forth from the forest floor as March turned to April. In my haste to get from point A to point B in search of who knows what, I no doubt must have tromped on a good many vibrantly colored woodland gems.

Those days of haste are behind me now, replaced by leisurely and far more attentive strolls wherever I meander each week.  Being the curious sort, somewhere along the way, long before "Google" became an adjective, I accumulated a mini library of reference books, books that divulged information on all that I encountered.  My bookcase became home to a vast array of outdoor topics ranging from the night sky to butterflies, to mammals, and fish, and birds and, much, much more. One of the more worn books in my collection is about wildflowers. Here are some pics of a few that I happened across while outside near my house recently.  I give you this year's "edition" of early woodland blooms.    
The flower of the Trout Lily consists of just a solitary, nodding bloom.
Although their mottled leaves first emerged a couple weeks ago, it's only in recent days that the Trout Lilies finally have sprouted in the small woods adjacent our property. They stand a mere four to ten inches tall but, left undisturbed over time they can develop into large colonies that will blanket the forest floor.

The Trout Lily apparently got its name because someone back in the day thought the mottled blotching on the leaves resembled the markings found along the backs of wild brook trout.
Lesser Clenandine has heart-shaped leaves and shiny yellow flowers.
Lesser Celandine is normally found growing in large to massive clusters in damp woodlots and along sluggish streams and will brighten the forest floor considerably. Late in the day, as the sun nears the western horizon, the blossoms will close tightly and remain so until the next morning after the sun has ascended well overhead.  (A word of caution, this is an invasive species and should not be transplanted.)

No, this is not a dandelion. 
Another early spring wild flower, Colts Foot first emerged in early March this year.  Sometimes mistaken for dandelion, Colts Foot is found along streams as well as roadsides. Thanks to their distinct leaves (hence the name), the plant is one of the more readily identifiable wildflowers. Both the flowers and the leaves are edible and also are used in some natural homeopathic remedies.   
Suffice to say at this stage of my life I am no longer in such a hurry when outdoors and more importantly, I no longer knowingly step on delicate wild plants, but rather stop quite often to admire some of the God’s finest handiwork in the spring woodlands.  "Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."

Until Next Time,
Jim & Claudia

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