Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bloodroot's up. It's spring wildflower time!

Just last week I canvassed a series of really nice dolomite glades looking for a blooming Draba, D. cuneifolia, to be specific. I saw the green blades of false garlic, some basal leaves of Geum in the woods, but the rest of the world was a uniform khaki of post oak leaves and rank warm season grasses. The lawn weeds and little parking lot Brassicas started blooming recently, and just today, hiking up a steep slope on a protected hillside covered in the basal leaves of a rare shooting star, I stumbled onto my first-of-year anemones. Or false rue anemones. Every March I forget which is which.

And so, I return to my wonderful Paul Nelson-illustrated Spring Wildflowers book, used in many places as a coloring book but serving as a great refresher in not only scientific nomenclature--which has probably all changed lately--but in the location of spring wildflowers. Because the book is out of print, with permission of the illustrator, I have scanned all the plates and posted them here for a quick review session before spring wildflower season really ramps up. We're expecting snow this weekend, which is typical, though cruel.

Today's hike took me through really homogeneous Ozark woods of a black oak-red oak character, Roubidoux sandstone-Gasconade dolomite bedrock community, a prized though typical and widespread landscape for timber people. In the unburned condition, these kinds of woods are not very diverse or interesting from a ground flora perspective, but such is the joy of spring wildflower season! One can visit trashed out bottomlands along streams, areas that were once corn fields, and still find spring flora. Unburned, overgrazed, logged woods with some semblance of native diversity and not socked in with bush honeysuckle? You'll still find spring flora. Spring wildflowers are ubiquitous in the Ozarks in Missouri, found even in gravel parking lots where some "rare in Missouri" but widespread in the White River region grow. So, with these longer day lengths, chipping sparrows starting to call, timberdoodles probing for insects, hit up your local woods for some wildflower walks and a dose of long awaited Vitamin D.

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