20 April 2009

Look What's Flowering Now!

We had some beautiful weather here in northern Indiana on Saturday, and I was able to take full advantage of it by botanizing at Sebert County Park in LaPorte County, Spicer Lake Nature Preserve in St. Joseph County, and Bendix Woods Nature Preserve in St. Joseph County. This is intended to be just a quick post to show some of the plant species that I saw in flower that Lindsay and I hadn't yet seen this year. For more information on several of these species, see my post here at Get Your Botany On!.

At Sebert County Park, I stumbled across American Dog Violet (Viola conspersa). This handsome blue violet is uncommonly encountered in moist woods, mostly east of the Mississippi River.
Limestone Bittercress (Cardamine douglassii) was flowering at Spicer Lake Nature Preserve. This plant of the mustard family (Brassicaceae) is commonly found in moist woods, often in somewhat disturbed areas.
The flowers of Limestone Bittercress have four petals, characteristic of mustards. This species is similar in appearance to Bulbous Bittercress (Cardamine bulbosa), but as you'll notice in the photograph below the stem within and below the inflorescence is pubescent, while that of Bulbous Bittercress has no hairs. There are also habitat differences, as Bulbous Bittercress is more often found in springy areas.
Also at Spicer Lake, Virginia Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) had begun to flower on trails through an old-field. I later saw this somewhat weedy species, which can be found throughout North America, flowering on the trails on our property. This is a welcome site for Bootypants, who thoroughly enjoys plucking the Virginia Strawberry fruit right off of the plants as we walk our trails during the summer.
Bendix Woods will probably be at its peak for wildflower viewing next weekend, when I will be leading a hike there for Shirley Heinze Land Trust. However, several ephemerals were already in bloom on Saturday. One of those was Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), which is found in moist woods throughout eastern North America.
The 1-inch long flowers of this gorgeous species are hidden below the leaves very close to the ground, and can be easily overlooked if you aren't specifically looking for them.
Lindsay recently talked about seeing Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) in this post; on Saturday at Bendix Woods, I saw the closely related Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis) just beginning to flower. The flowers of Squirrel Corn often have a soft pinkish tinge to them. The plant is named Squirrel Corn because of the tuberous roots, which are yellow and look like kernals of corn.
I really do enjoy seeing this next plant every spring. This is False Mermaidweed (Floerkea proserpinacoides), a plant of moist woods that is very easily overlooked and somehow often confused with bedstraw (Galium sp.).
The tiny flowers of this species have three whitish petals. You want to amaze your friends? Find False Mermaidweed in mid- to late-April and show them the beautiful flowers. Trust me... they'll be amazed. In the United States, this species is found as far east as Massachusetts and as far west as California.
And from one spring wildflower with three white petals to another...
This is White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), of the lily family (Liliaceae). White Trillium is the state wildflower of Ohio, and it's easy to see why. I've never come across someone in the woods who isn't completely enamored with this species. As the season progresses, the petals begin to turn pink. Next week, Bendix Woods should be a carpet of white, made up in large part by White Trillium.
Finally, I came across this little insect that I believe is a Click Beetle, though I have no idea to what genus or species it belongs. From what I understand, they are called "click beetles" because of their ability to snap two body parts together, which shoots them into the air to avoid predators.
This Click Beetle was perched on the spike of Plantainleaf Sedge (Carex plantaginea). If anyone can help with a positive identification of the insect, I would be love to know what it is.
More to come as the spring progresses!
By the way, the ticks are out, so watch yourself. Bootypants and I are tied at two each; Lindsay hasn't had any yet.


Carl Strang said...

Hi, Scott,
Click beetles are a huge group, and according to my references there are a lot of species similar to the one you show. Your photos are great, but distinguishing even genera requires at least an equally good view of the underside. Someone who has studied them might recognize the one in your photo, we'll hope for that.

Scott said...

Thanks for your comments Carl. Next time, I'll try to get photos of teh underside as well.