Saturday, April 25, 2009

Plants: Blooming and Springing

There are more flowers blooming in the forests. Many of these early flowers are growing, flowering, and setting seed before the forest's leaves emerge to collect the sun's energy. Many other plants are beginning their growing season as well. Below is a sample of the plants you can easily find growing along the Easy Loop Trail:

Spring Beauty is a small, five-petaled flower with slender, grass-like leaves sprouting through the leaf litter this time of year. Look for a large cluster along the portion of the Easy Loop Trail leading downhill, out of the pine stand (near the labeled Hop-hornbeam and White Ash trees).

Red Trillium is a unique plant in which nearly all parts come in threes: 3 leaves, 3 sepals, 3 petals. New York State has listed this flower on the state's Protected Native Plant List, indicating that it may not be "picked, plucked, severed, removed, damaged, or carried away". Doing so would certainly hinder the plant's ability to reproduce in addition to robbing everyone else the priviledge of viewing this gorgeous spring wildflower. See this Trillium near the Sugar House, mixed in with the wild leeks.

Skunk Cabbage is a most prominent sight in all areas with moist soils. Though it has long since flowered, the large leaves are beginning to unfurl, giving the streams, lakesides, and swamps a very tropical vibe. The name Skunk Cabbage comes from the stinky smell of the flower and the crushed leaves of the plant. See plenty of these plants along the stream on both ends of Bechtel Lake.

Fiddleheads are sprouting up all over the forest. In the case of the Christmas Fern above, these new fronds are replacing the dried out, wilting fronds of this evergreen species. Also referred to as monkey tails, the fronds of the many species of ferns slowly unravel to absorb the abundant light that showers across the forest floor this time of year. Near the intersection of Easy Loop and Chickadee Trail, keep an eye out for the fiddleheads from various species like New York, Cinnamon, Interrupted, and Hay-scented Ferns.

Enjoy your spring!

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

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