Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ephemera

The term "spring ephemeral" has never rung more true than it has this year. Generally speaking a spring ephemeral is a wild flower that grows, blooms, reproduces, and dies away in the time between the end of winter's deep freeze and when the leaves of the mature trees fully open and block the sunlight from getting to the forest floor. No sunlight means no photosynthesis so these plants go through their entire life cycle as soon as it is warm enough to grow. If they time it wrong, they might not get to reproduce.

So some of the plants I saw last weekend that I wanted to photograph today were already past their prime. Here is a patch of blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis) that last weekend was simply covered in the stunning white blossoms. I actually took a photo of that to show you, but I used my digital camera which has since stopped charging so I can't offload the photo. 

As you can see, the flowers are basically gone. Where they stood only 6 days ago you can see the fruit is starting to ripen.
A large colony of Blood Root, post flowering

A few late blossoms but mostly ripening fruit

The Blood Root flower close up. Beautiful.


Interestingly enough, there is a cultivar of the native blood root in the garden I work at. It is the double blood root (known as Sanguinaria canadensis 'multiplex') and although the straight species is on its way out, this cultivar is just beginning to bloom.
Double Blood Root (Sanguinaria canadensis 'Multiplex')

Notice how tight the flower heads still are
The flowers haven't fully opened yet, as of these photos from this morning. I'll check back tomorrow and see if they are farther along.

Here is a plant I missed entirely this year, since it only flowers one time for about a day: Jeffersonia (Jeffersonia diphylla).
Jeffersonia diphylla leaves and fruit

See the fruit? It's already bloomed, been pollinated, and is growing seed. And this plant wasn't even leafed out last weekend! Which means all of this happened in less than a week. Maybe if I'm lucky there will be a late bloom tomorrow - I've never actually seen one of these blooming in real life.

Here is another plant that I missed from last weekend to this one:


I have to admit, I am not yet sure what it is. I am assuming it is some sort of Bleeding Heart based on the leaves and the way the flowers are attached to the stalk. However, the flowers were already wilted and dry, and they certainly did not have that classic bleeding heart shape. Could it possibly be Dicentra eximia?

Regardless. what ever it is it was not blooming last Sunday, and here it is 6 days later and already past its prime. You have to move fast in the spring.









Spreaking of the Dicentra genus you know what plant is blooming right now? Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)!

look at those little pants. I love it.

Finally there was one other plant that was prolific last weekend that was all but gone today: the wood squill (Scilla siberica). This beautiful blue flower is a bulb that shoots up strappy leaves every spring along with this electric blue flower. When the spring landscape is still dull and without much color, this guy makes quite an impact.
Wood Squill (Scilla siberica)
However beautiful, these flowers fade away quite quickly. I think the only reason I found this late bloomer today was because it was in a shaded section of the yard.

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