Nature Notes

Spreeeiiing-time!

By Greg Lecker

The whistling calls of Black-capped Chickadees delight.  Spreeeiiing-time, indeed.  Right on schedule, warblers are passing through, flittering in the tree tops.  This Friday afternoon, sixty-something degree sunshine has never felt warmer than it does following a windy raw Thursday evening.  What great timing for National Public Gardens Day when waived admission brings out visitors by the hundreds.  Some even stroll through the Grace B. Dayton Wildflower Garden!

Make plans to catch the ephemeral performance of a variety of spring wildflowers.  The Sensory Garden parking lot offers convenient access to this woodland treasure.

False Rue Anemone
False Rue Anemone

False Rue Anemone waves in the warm afternoon breeze, like its namesake, Anemone, a wood nymph caressed by Zephyr, the West Wind.   A blended Greco-Roman myth suggests that goddess Flora, jealously enraged by such a tryst/rendezvous, banished the nymph.  Yielding to Zephyr’s pleading, Venus transformed the heartbroken, dying body of the nymph into a delicate wildflower that returns each spring to the delighted pursuit of the warmly puffing old man Zephyr.  Whether or not this story aids one in recalling the flower’s name, the fluttering flowers of False Rue Anemone certainly attract attention.

False Rue Anemone can be differentiated from Rue Anemone in several ways.  False Rue Anemone blooms of five sepals wave on thin stems rising from deeply dissected foliage.   Perched just atop less deeply dived foliage, Rue Anemone bloom with from five to as many as ten sepals.  Lastly, False Rue Anemone grows in large colonies in relatively moist sites; and Rue Anemone grows more sparsely in drier upland habitats.

Bloodroot
Bloodroot

Warm temperatures have unfurled the petals of Bloodroot flowers.   Both as the plants emerge from the soil and on cold, gray days, the leaves curl protectively around their flower stem.

Large Flowered Bellwort
Large Flowered Bellwort

Large-Flowered Bellwort often looks wilted.  Nestled among the limp but freshly green foliage are the exquisitely spiral petals of an ornate bell.

Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily
Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily

Here and there, one finds rare Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily, an endangered wildflower found naturally near the Cannon and Zumbro Rivers in southeastern Minnesota.  With flower stalk barely reaching the height of the leaves, its flowers are the most diminutive feature of the plant.  The bell-like flower delicately hangs from an arching shepherd’s crook.

On the pond below the Snyder Building, floating duckweed and the reflected trunk and boughs of surrounding trees create a mirage of trees dusted with light green and gray green spring growth.    Looking above, I see that warming spring temperatures are bringing this vision to fulfillment.

Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

 

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