Next weekend, I am leading a hike for Shirley Heinze Land Trust members at Bendix Woods County Park in St. Joseph County, Indiana. On Saturday, I walked the trail at Bendix Woods to see what would be flowering next weekend for my hike. Based on what I saw, participants should be in for a real treat.
The forest floor was already alive this past weekend. Most of the white specs in the photo above are Enemion biternatum (Rananculaceae), shown below. Ben already discussed the differences between this species and Thalictrum thalictroides in his post here. Another difference between the two is that Enemion biternatum has conspicuous white, papery stipules.
The other contributor to the snowy-spotted landscape is Trillium grandiflorum (Liliaceae), the state wildflower of Ohio. This charismatic species, shown below, had just begun to flower. It should be at its peak next weekend at Bendix Woods. Seeds of T. grandiflorum possess elaiosomes, which are fleshy, fatty structures. Ants are attracted to the elaiosomes. When ants harvest seeds from different colonies of T. grandiflorum, they are helping to increase the genetic diversity of the future colony that will germinate at the location of their nest.
Both Dicentra canadensis (below) and D. cucullaria (below that) (Fumariaceae) were in flower, though I saw many fewer flowering individuals of D. canadensis. I noticed a lot of bumblebees in the vicinity of these two species, and as it turns out, bumblebees are thought to be the only pollinator of the two species.
Like Trillium grandiflorum, the seeds of Dicentra canadensis and D. cucullaria possess elaiosomes and are spread by ants.
One of my favorite spring wildflowers has to be Floerkea proserpinacoides (Limnanthaceae), pictured below. Why? Probably because most people don't even notice it, and because the flowers, although just a few millimeters across, are rather interesting. Small bees and flower flies are known to pollinate false mermaid, as it is known, and both insects were in abundance at Bendix Woods yesterday.
The maroon flowers of Asarum canadense (Aristolochiaceae), shown below, are low to the ground, where they are pollinated by ants. This has to be one of my favorite ephemerals. Oh... wait... I just said that about the previous species! It really is difficult to pick favorites, but who doesn't love a plant that has roots that can be used to make candy? I made candy from the roots of this and true ginger (Zingiber officinale) in college. While some pieces were too strong, others tasted very good.
Several other species were in flower, but I'll save those for the people who come on my hike next week!
After visiting Bendix Woods, I swung by Sebert County Park in LaPorte County, Indiana. Not much was flowering at this site, but one gem that was in bloom was Viola conspersa (Violaceae). This is one of our blue-flowered violets that has stems with leaves (as opposed to leaves all basal, as in V. sororia). You will also notice that the lateral petals are heavily bearded, and that the spur is long, but shorter than the ridiculous spur of V. rostrata.
Violets are a fun and diverse group. Yesterday alone, I saw Viola blanda, V. canadensis, V. conspersa, V. odorata, V. pubescens, V. rostrata, and V. sororia in flower.
Further south, you may already be seeing climax wildflower dispays, but I think we are about one week away here in northern Indiana. Even if you are busy, make time to get out next weekend to see these exhibits for yourself.