By Boak Wiesner
The recent rains and heat made the plants on the forest floor in the Wildflower Garden explode into bloom. Just three weeks ago, just a handful of species braved the long-lasting cold to show their colors (or lack thereof, actually, all of them being white) above the barely thawed ground. Today, though, I am surrounded by an abundance of spring beauty. Quite a change!
Entering the woods, the flash of a Common Yellow Violet in the sunlight catches my eye. There are a variety of colors of violets around here. Right now the Twins sure could use a famous member of their tribe, namely, Frank!
The balmy weather makes me a bit balmy, too: “Did you see any wildflowers?” “Oh yeah, Phlox!” “Wow, that many? Me, I just saw a couple.”
Phlox are in bloom, flames on the forest floor, hence their names. To some,
Phlox can be used to wish someone the pleasantest of dreams – how nice!
An interesting feature of Phlox is that its leaves are connate-perfoliate. Whew! Connate means they arise together and perfoliate means that the stalk goes through the leaf. See?
The three parts of the flower and the leaves of Great White Trillium indicate that this plant is a monocot, the second biggest group of Angiosperms, the flowering plants. Their time of blooming is nearly over.
While they are not nearly as showy as the plants of the forest floor, those of the Red Oak are nonetheless just as important as, without them, oak trees would not be making acorns, a staple food source for many animals around here.. One has to only look just a little closer to see their beauty.
Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist volunteer.