Nature nerds come in all flavors. There are the herp nerds, who love frogs, salamanders, snakes, lizards, and turtles. There are the bird nerds who love anything with feathers. There are the insect nerds who love beetles, ants, butterflies, etc. Today, my walk was with a couple of flower nerds. Mind you, it was not a nice day. While it wasn’t bitter cold, it was raining. And the trails at Bentley Sanctuary were very wet and muddy. But we had to go because Bentley is The Place for spring wildflowers. It doesn’t matter that none were in bloom… because Wildflower Nerds will tell you the latin names of things, even when all they can see is a tiny new leaf sprouting from the mud. This is Jeff. He’s photographing the new shoot of a Trout Lily.
I think we are all just so tired of winter, so ready for spring, that we will simply go out in any weather and FIND signs of spring – darn it all – no matter what! (It is snowing outside right now as I write this…) Plus, the flowers we are looking for are called “ephemerals” because they have such quick life cycles… blooming and producing seeds quickly before the trees leaf out and steal all their sun. (Sun! What sun??) So we need to take every opportunity to watch these beauties in all their stages of growth, which right now is leaves and buds. This is Suzi. There really is a new plant in the middle of that mud. She’s the one who knows all the latin names.
It was pretty amazing the number of plants we were able to identify. Skunk Cabbage (of course), Trout Lily, False Helebore, Spring Beauty, Blue Cohosh, Trillium, Buttercups, Running Strawberry, Toothwort, Evening Primrose, and Jewelweed, just to name a few. Isn’t this a cute little baby Trillium. I wonder if I’ll be able to find it again when it is blooming?
One of my favorite finds was a patch of skunk cabbage that had obviously been grazed by turkeys. On some of them, the flower was chewed up, on others it was only the leaves. I guess people can eat skunk cabbage, too, if they dry it first, or cook it several times, discarding the cooking water between each boiling. Seems like too much work to me!
You’ll have to check back in a couple of weeks to see I’ve posted photos of any of these things with actual flowers… For now, we have mud, leaves, and buds. If you want to dream of warmer temperatures, check out my photos on flickr:
Or try one of these folks: