Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring wildflowers--April 23, 2011

It's late April, the snow has finally stopped, and the spring wildflowers are blooming. My small, wet second- or third-growth woodlot had suffered a lot of human interference before I moved here 15 years ago, and I work on and off to try to restore it to a more native state. It's been heavily planted with daffodils and daylilies, and the former owners apparently kept it raked.
It's very small and has been thoroughly infested with garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis). For the last five years I have dedicated a good deal of time each spring to pulling up this invasive weed, and while it's still a problem, the center of the woods is now largely mustard-free. I keep meaning to address the (also invasive) daylilies, but this time of year I tend to get overwhelmed with yard work, and never manage to get back to them. There's also multiflora rose that I hack down when it starts climbing into the trees and the native grapevine that I control the same way. I was lucky enough to have grown up in a large old-growth forest (by Ohio standards), and I well remember the annual carpet of wildflowers from my childhood. Although my woods here is beautiful to look at, I tend to see all the invaders as well as the fading ash trees, notice what's missing, and can't help but feel somewhat depressed.

I miss seeing trout-lilies and trilliums here, but some native wildflowers do appear. I transplanted this Dutchman's-breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) plant from a friend's property in Delaware County before her house was built, but there's a bigger patch down in the ravine. This beautiful wildflower grows in rich woods, but did not occur in my childhood woods for some reason and I saw it for the first time when I moved to Columbus. It's seeds are known to be spread by ants, and sure enough, there's a large anthill right on the edge of the woods.

Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) were prevalent and a sure sign of spring in my parents' woods, and I love seeing my own colonies thrive here.

A few spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) live here...,

....and there is one small patch of rue anemone (Anemonella thalictroides) among the Dutchman's-breeches in the ravine.

There is a huge number of violets, both common blue (Viola papilionacea)....

...and large-leaved (Viola incognita) in the woods and lawn. The blue violets are known to become weeds, and they are a welcome one for me!

There is a spreading patch of wild leeks or ramps (Allium tricoccum) for which this wet, muddy woods is especially suited. Ramps are a well-known spring delicacy in Appalachia and are threatened by over-harvesting in some states. I'd be happy to see this patch overtake the woods!