Babbling and Strewing Flowers

April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
— Edna St. Vincent Millay

*

Not just April, but May as well, recklessly and profligately scattering blooms, so that if colour and flower were voice and music, the cacophony would be ear-piercing. As it is, the eye hardly knows where to look: on the ground for the snakes, roots, rocks; in the air and trees for the birds trilling just above, for the dragonflies and mayflies beginning to arc and dip; or on both sides of the path at the same time for the small and large woodland wildflowers and shrubs, ferns, and mosses. A girl could get whiplash.

In the case of a small system of trails nearby, it’s a veritable riot just now of pink lady slippers (Cypripedium acaule …a few of which are white), painted trillium (Trillium undulatum), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), starflowers (Trientalis borealis), foamflower (tiarella), ferns of all sorts. A mile walk took me over an hour, and it’s not because the terrain is challenging but because there is so much to take in, through body, mind, spirit, heart, soul, senses.

Just a few things to know about the lady slipper, a kind of orchid: It requires a fungus in the soil from the family Rhizoctonia, and it needs bumblebees (though there is actually no nectar inside it and the bumblebee gets nothing from the relationship). Early in the lady slipper’s life, the threads of the fungus, Rhizoctonia, break open the lady slipper’s seed and attach to it, passing food and nutrients to the plant’s seed (which has no other way of getting nutrients), and then, as the lady slipper plant ages and can make most of its own nutrients, the fungus extracts the nutrients it needs from the orchid roots. Pink lady slippers can live to be more than twenty years old, but if you pick the flower, you kill the plant. It’s found often under red maple, oak, sweetgum, and pines, and near sassafras.

Join me in my slow walk among the lady slippers and other spring plants.

First, some trail to get us started:

trail in sunlight
trail in sunlight
trail with pine needles
trail with pine needles
a part of the Allen Trail that smelled heavenly
a part of the Allen Trail that smelled heavenly
rocky mossy brook
rocky mossy brook
the curve of the trail
the curve of the trail
ferns along the trail
ferns along the trail

And, the lady slippers … I counted 100 plants in one 200-square-foot space where two trails meet. And another 60 or so scattered along the three trails. Most are pink lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule), some are the white variety of the same species.

Can you spot all 13 pink lady slippers?
Can you spot all 13 pink lady slippers?
pink lady slipper
pink lady slipper
a pink lady slipper bloom
a pink lady slipper bloom
pink lady slipper
pink lady slipper
two pink lady slipper blooms
two pink lady slipper blooms
small white lady slipper
small white lady slipper
two small white lady slippers
two small white lady slippers

Some painted trillium are still blooming:

painted trillium
painted trillium
painted trillium, mostly gone by
painted trillium, mostly gone by

Clintonia (borealis, aka blue bead lily) is starting to bloom:

Clintonia in bud
Clintonia in bud
Clintonia in bloom
Clintonia in bloom
Clintonia bloom
Clintonia bloom

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) is in bloom, and bunchberry (Cornus canadensis):

Canada mayflower bloom
Canada mayflower bloom
bunchberry flower
bunchberry flower
bunchberry clump
bunchberry clump

And starflower (Trientalis borealis), everywhere:

starflower with foliage
starflower with foliage
starflower bloom
starflower bloom

Not to mention, though I will, Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum; full of oxalic acid!):

Jack in the Pulpit, foliage and flower
Jack in the Pulpit, foliage and flower
inside a Jack in the Pulpit
inside a Jack in the Pulpit

And blueberry bushes, tiarella (foamflower), violets, and ferns galore:

highbush blueberry flowers
highbush blueberry flowers
blue violet
blue violet
tiarella (foam flower)
tiarella (foam flower)
furled fern frond with gauzing
furled fern frond with gauzing
furry fern frond
furry fern frond
trio of (cinnamon?) ferns along the road
trio of (cinnamon?) ferns along the road
sensitive fern shape
sensitive fern shape

Sarsaparilla flowers, Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana), fungi on a log, British soldiers lichen (Cladonia cristatella), and azaleas by the pond:

sarsaparilla in flower
sarsaparilla in flower
Indian Cucumber Root plants against bleached log
Indian Cucumber Root plants against bleached log
fungi on log
fungi on log
tiny British soldiers lichen
tiny British soldiers lichen
azalea at pond
azalea at pond

Finally, a dragonfly (probably chalk-fronted), great blue heron, and a mayfly … on my shirt.

dragonfly
dragonfly
great blue heron at nearby pond
great blue heron at nearby pond
mayfly on my shirt
mayfly on my shirt

Now go outside and enjoy the idiotic world!

 

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