Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Orchids, Lilies, and Look-alikes: May 25

Cypripedium acaule
Cypripedium parviflorum
var. parviflorum
Our WIB group had to bundle up a bit for this week's walk since temperatures were hovering around 40 deg. F in the morning.  As we worked our way up the trail, though, the air warmed up, the layers came off, and our species list grew!  Not surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap between last week and this week, but several species had progressed to new phenophases (e.g. in bud last week, in bloom this week), and we were excited to also observe several new species.  Our two showiest orchids, the pink lady's slipper and the lesser yellow lady's slipper, were both in bloom.  The yellow lady's slipper flower was only a few centimeters long (its small size is one feature that distinguishes it from the greater yellow lady's slipper) but that didn't diminish its beauty.
Clintonia borealis
Uvularia perfoliata
Disporum lanuginosum
Fairy bells (Disporum lanuginosum) are in bloom alongside perfoliate bellwort. Both fairy bells and bellworts (Uvularia spp.) have somewhat inconspicuous yellow-green flowers that might be missed by casual hikers, but keen observers will appreciate these lovely members of the lily family.  Blue bead (Clintonia borealis), another small, yellow-flowered lily is currently in full bloom at the station, primarily around the rocky outcrops at Bear Cliff.

Trientalis borealis
Medeola virginiana
Yet another lily with small yellowish flowers is indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana), which is now in bud. Its first whorl of leaves is sometimes mistaken for starflower (Trientalis borealis) foliage, but it is easily distinguished by its parallel leaf veins and distinctive flowers.  Starflower is a member of the primrose family, so its floral structure is quite different than indian cucumber root (lily family).  Starflower is in bloom now on the mountain.

Galax urceolata (bud)
Amianthum muscitoxicum (bud)
Currently in bud are two plants that will soon have racemes of white flowers: Galax (Galax urceolata) and fly poison (Amianthum muscitoxicum, another lily).  Their foliage is quite different, though; fly poison is a monocot with long, parallel-veined leaves, while Galax is a dicot with round, shiny, toothed leaves.

Maianthemum canadense
Tiarella cordifolia
Two other species with racemes of white flowers are currently in bloom: Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadensis, yet another lily!) and foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia, saxifrage family).  They are easily distinguished by their foliage.

Many thanks to David Darnell for leading us, and to Gary Cote for sharing his knowledge of lichens. A species list is below.  Please join us this weekend for a walk led by Jaime Jones, MLBS Station Manager!
Our focus is wildflowers, but that doesn't mean we
don't also stop to appreciate (and photograph) wildlife!
All photographs copyright J. Jones

In flower:
Poa cuspidata
Barbarea vulgaris (some fruits)
Anemone quinquefolia (some fruits)
Ranunculus recurvatus
Cypripedium acaule
Trillium undulatum (petals decaying)
Maianthemum canadense
Uvularia perfoliata
Uvularia pudica
Disporum lanuginosum
Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum
Carex pensylvanica
Carex sp.
Juncus tenuis
Houstonia caerulea
Trientalis borealis
Viola pallens
Viola cucullata
Viola blanda
Viola hastata
Vaccinium pallidum
Conopholis americana
Vaccinium corymbosum
Stellaria pubera
Zizia aurea
Polygonatum biflorum
Clintonia borealis
Saxifraga michauxii
Convallaria majalis
Acer pensylvanicum
Tiarella cordifolia
Arisaema triphyllum

In bud:
Betula lenta
Photinia pyrifolia/melanocarpa?
Rubus sp.
Gaylussacia buccata
Amianthum muscitoxicum
Veratrum viride
Medeola virginiana
Galax urceolata

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Trilliums, anemones, lady's slippers, and more: May 18

Cypripedium acaule
Mountain Lake Biological Station's pilot What's in Bloom program is officially underway!  In just two weeks' time, we've already observed some 20-25 flowering plant species in bud or in flower, some of which have appeared earlier than expected.  For instance, last week (May 18) we saw our first pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule) of the season.  With very little pigmentation in the flower, it appeared almost white.  Other showy species included the painted trillium (Trillium undulatum), wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), and mountain bellwort (Uvularia pudica), and more.  A partial species list is below.  
Trillium undulatum
If you didn't make it out for the walk last weekend, don't worry--you'll have another chance this weekend (and the next weekend, and the next...)!  We're excited to welcome this week's leader, David Darnell, president of the New River Valley chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society.  With David's expertise, a beautiful weather forecast, and a lot of botanical diversity, it's sure to be a perfect day!  For logistical details, visit mlbs.org/whatsinbloom.

Houstonia caerulia
Species observed in flower (among others): 
Houstonia caerulia- bluets 
Vaccinium angustifolium- low-bush blueberry
Anemone quinquefolia- wood anemone
Carex pensylvanicum- Pennsylvania sedge
Conopholis americana- bear corn 
Barbarea vulgaris- yellow rocket (non-native)
Trillium undulatum- painted trillium
Uvularia pudica- mountain bellwort
Anemone quinquefolia
Maianthemum canadense- Canada mayflower
Amelanchier arborea- serviceberry
Acer pensylvanicum- striped maple
Zizia aurea- golden alexanders
Geranium maculatum- spotted geranium
Cypripedium acaule- pink lady slipper

Species observed in bud only (among others): 
Convallaria majuscula- lily of the valley
Medeola virginiana- indian cucumber root
Viola cucullata
Aralia nudicaulis- wild sarsaparilla
Galax aphylla- galax
Kalmia latifolia- mountain laurel
Menziesia pilosa- minnie bush
Clintonia sp.
Photinia pyrifolia- red chokeberry

All photographs copyright Jaime Jones