LOTS of pictures for you today … For about two weeks at the start of May (hereabouts) the leaves have not fully opened on the trees and the flowers on the forest floor make the most of the light before they are cast in shade for the rest of the summer … these “spring ephemerals” are showing beautifully this year. The photos that follow were all taken on a walk this morning along the orange trail in the arboretum but won’t last long – get out there in the next few days and enjoy this special time of the year.
I thought it would be interesting to show a couple of photos of specimen plants and then end this post a gallery of lots of pictures (bigger format) for those who can’t enough of this sort of thing. So, in no particular order …
Colt’s foot – Tussilago farfara (Tussilage pas-d’ane)
Actually a widespread foreign invader, not a native plant at all, but it has probably become one by since its seeds arrived on the muddy boots of an early setter. One of the first flowers to bloom; nothing special or rare but it was about the first wild flower I saw in spring of 1998 when I was very new to Canada/Quebec so I am rather fond of them … as is this hoverfly.
Large-flowered Bellwort/Merrybells – Uvularia grandiflora (Uvilaire grande-fleur)
This one is certainly a native flower and is found in several discrete small and rather wet sites around the orange trail. In the gallery at the end of this post you will see some close-ups of the flowers for more detail. It is apparently much favoured by deer as a browse which may explain why it is not as frequently seen as some other flowers.
Trout lily – Erythronium americanum (Erythrone d’Amérique)
These are simply everywhere at the moment. There is one spot along the southern stretch of the orange trail where a lot of standing water exists that many small islands are just overwhelmed with Trout lilies. According to the literature, the common name “trout lily” refers to the appearance of its gray-green leaves mottled with brown or gray, which allegedly resemble the coloring of brook trout … I have fished for, caught and eaten trout both here and in the UK and I can assure you this in no way resembles the colouring of any trout species on the planet.
Interestingly (well, it interests J and I) there are several forms of this species in which the pollen on the anthers is of different colours … most particularly yellow and brown.
Trilliums – Trillium grandiflorum (white) and Trillium erectum (red)
Carpets of these are all over the place … the red species flowered a few days ahead of the white form and are in fewer numbers anyway … but you should find them easily enough.
Wild ginger – Asarum canadense (Asarat gingembre)
This is quite vulnerable so if you are lucky enough to find it please don’t spread the word around of its precise location. It’s only called “ginger” because it tastes a bit spicy …
Beware. This is a classic example of why nobody should assume that a wild plant from which a medicine can be extracted is, ipso facto, likely to be good for you as opposed to a “chemical” remedy. Indigenous people used it a spice and as a medicinal herb to treat a number of ailments including dysentery, digestive problems, swollen breasts, coughs and colds, typhus, scarlet fever, nerves, sore throats, cramps, heaves, earaches, headaches, convulsions, asthma, tuberculosis, urinary disorders, and venereal disease. In addition, they also used it as a stimulant or appetite enhancer, and as a charm (sounds wonderful – right?). Unfortunately the wild ginger contains aristolochic acid which is carcinogenic. Consumption of aristolochic acid is associated with “permanent kidney damage, sometimes resulting in kidney failure that has required kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation”. In addition, some patients have developed certain types of cancers, most often occurring in the urinary tract.
So – admire, take pictures and walk away.
Spring beauty – Claytonia caroliniana
A gorgeous little flower that you are going to have to hunt for … we had to take a side track off the orange trail to track these down. Well worth the effort though. First nations people once ate the corms boiled like potatoes which may account for the alternative common name of “fairy spud”.
Jack-in-the-pulpit – Arisaema triphyllum
These are a bit later than some of the other plants here and only just starting to emerge so they will reach their full glory as the others are gloing over. Plenty of them about in small numbers.
Wild Lily-of-the-valley / Canada mayflower – (Maianthemum canadense)
We only found one small patch of these not far form the junction with the yellow trail. Very close to the path though so you shoulkd find them easily enough. The flowers are still in bud stage and will open shortly.
Hobble bush – (Viburnum lantanoides)
Our gardens are full of the many forms of Viburnum … this is the eastern Canada native form and is most easily identified by its unusual flowers. Will bear fruits later that the birds will dine on.
Wild Canada violet – Viola canadensis
Also occurs as a white form and hybridises wildly and wantonly with other violets so can be hard to identify. There is a patch not far form the sugar shack.
Not a flower … cones of the larch trees
At their red best right now. You will have zero problem finding these.
While we are looking at trees – Birch catkins
How’s your hay-fever this year 🙂 ?
And finally, the guardian of the forest … a Common Raven
It would have been too crowded to put all the photographs we have above, so here are those and more in a gallery. Click any thumbnail to open a slideshow at full screen size. Then put your boots and go find these flowers for yourselves while thye are still here … mothers’ day weekend is coming up, what better time?