Monday, May 25, 2020

Some May Wildflowers

A random assembly of May wildflowers, some seen here, some there.

Fringe tree is more like a shrub, but sometimes achieves the size of a small dogwood. Give it some sun and it will fill its form with lacy white in May. Native to the southeast U.S., I've seen it growing in the wild only once, in a preserve we created in Durham, NC. Some internet postings say it can be attacked by the emerald ash borer, but we have two that are flourishing thus far.

This black cherry was blooming conveniently next to a friend's front porch. Black cherries have "black potato chip" bark and little black cherries preferred more by birds than humans. They are common in backyards and in the wild, thriving on edges or in younger forests, before getting shaded out by larger trees.

Two other flowering trees easy to spot along roadsides this time of year are black locust, with its masses of white flowers, and princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa), an asian species with tubular purple flowers.

Another friend who was donating a tree to us happened to have a Leucothoe in his backyard. A good specimen like this can be attractive. There are native species--one that goes by the name "doghobble"--but I can't say I've ever actually seen them growing in the wild.

Big-leafed magnolia--relative of the very common tulip tree--is one of many seldom seen native magnolias. There are some growing in an area of the Institute Woods in Princeton, but I had also seen one growing in Herrontown Woods a few years ago, some distance off one of the trails, downslope from the ridge. Not remembering where it was exactly, I wondered if I'd ever encounter it again. Then one day recently my friend Kurt was showing me some trail work that he and his wife Sally were doing. Our conversation, which began shifting from trails into philosophy and history, took me out of my usual way of moving through that particular section of trail, and when I looked up I saw in the distance the big-leafed magnolia, twice the size it was before and in full bloom.

Each flower is like a candle centered on a platter of leaves.

Surprised to see cuckoo flower still blooming,

and rue anemone, too, is having a long season in this cool spring weather.

Mayflower can cover the ground in leaves but few flowers, as is the habit with trout lily earlier in the spring.

Each leaf of Jack-in-the-Pulpit has three leaflets. Males have one leaf, while the females, arising from a more robust root with enough stored energy to support production of seeds, has two. Each individual plant can change sex, year to year.

Jack-in-the-Pulpits are fairly common, in part because deer often leave them alone. If they do browse the leaves, it's more often of the females, whose leaves may be more nutritious.

Golden ragwort in the field next to Veblen House,

growing in what looks like a field of grass, but in this small patch there is no grass but instead something unidentified, more like a sedge or rush.

Wild geranium adds some color along trails.

Fairly rare is the wild comfrey, with a few small flowers lifted above a rosette of big velvety leaves, growing only on the special soils of the ridge.

This cool, wet spring is showing the showy orchid to be more widespread along the ridge than I had previously thought.

A bellwort with its yellow flower hanging like a bell.

A bit of a celebration here. These are the first blooms of a native azalea relocated to a sunny area of our botanical garden next to the parking lot at Herrontown Woods. This species, once common along the ridge, has long been prevented from blooming in the wild due to deer browsing and deep shade.

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