Nature Notes

Familiar Faces

By Boak Wiesner

Strangely, it was Kipling who comes to mind as I went in search of the famous and elusive Dwarf Trout Lily. I head towards where I saw them last spring, recalling “I knew his times and his seasons…” But I find none. Yet. All around me are the familiar wildflowers of the Minnesota woodlands, which more than make up for not seeing one species.

Is there anything else that says “Spring is here” better than the blooming of Trillium? I remember the first time I was really aware of them, lo these 25 years ago, when the woods up at Banning State Park was carpeted in their blossoms.

Another familiar face is Marsh Marigolds. Wherever there is a little water standing or flowing, as in the little creek here, you’ll find these happy golden flowers. They remind me how much I have learned about wildflowers over the years of writing these Nature Notes.

Take these Foam Flowers. Up ‘til a few years ago, I didn’t even know they existed, much less be able to identify them. Learning something new is always on the docket when I wander the paths of the Arboretum. I note they are white with yellow pollen on the stamens, which seems to be the main coloration pattern for the flowers that bloom early in Minnesota.

Another example is the False Rue Anemone. Their abundance around me cheers me up at the onset of a little rainshower. Some time ago I had some back surgery, which hinders me was I walk, but right now, I feel that it has slowed me down sufficiently from my past hurried pace, so I can truly observe and enjoy all the beauty around me out here in Nature.

The Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing so nicely in on the forest floor indicates that these woods are relatively healthy. The flower parts are all gathered together in the “jack” called a spadix. Probably it should be called “Jack and Jill in the Pulpit.” Don’t eat it, though. It contains oxalic acid crystals which are long and thin and sharp. They poke into your tender cheeks and hurt.

Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist Volunteer

*This is Boak Wiesner’s final scheduled “Nature Notes” blog post as he heading off for a well-earned retirement.  The Arboretum thanks Boak for his dedication and love of nature and of the Arbortetum. Have a great retirement!

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