A couple weeks ago I posted this photo of a bloodroot seed pod:
This past week I was on kitchen duty, meaning I wasn’t out on the trails with students at all. Yesterday afternoon I finally got out for a walk by myself and it occurred to me to see how these seed pods were developing. The first couple I found looked like this… (Excuse the poor quality of the images, my little point-and-shoot camera was being temperamental for some reason.)
Already shriveled and empty, the seeds gone. Had I completely missed seeing them split open? Aww man! But then I found this guy:
Check it out! Here’s a closer look at the seeds; I popped a couple out onto the palm of my hand to see them better.
The fleshy white things along the edges of the seeds are the arils, which attract ants. The ants go after the yummy arils and, in the process, disperse the seeds. I suppose not everyone would find this as interesting as I do, but I’ve been watching the progress of these plants every since they appeared in March and it was fun to see them complete their life cycle!
They say that April showers bring May flowers, but they got it backwards. This spring in Ohio, the wildflowers definitely peaked in April, while May has brought rain.
Still, the flowers themselves are only half the show. After they’re done blooming, plants get down to the real business of reproduction, making seeds (and fruit in which to disperse said seeds). It’s been interesting to revisit forest floor plants that bloomed a month or more ago and see what they’re up to now.
Bloodroot blooms very briefly…
…and then produces seeds attached to fleshy arils that scream “eat me!” to passing ants. This seed pod isn’t ripe yet; when it is it will split open.
Mayapples are, of course, named for their fruit. My understanding is that these fruits are actually edible when they ripen, at which point they turn from green to yellow. If I happen to find an intact ripe one this summer I’ll gladly taste it and report back, but the problem will be finding one that critters haven’t already got to.
Bishop’s cap, aka miterwort, produced tiny white snowflake-shaped flowers last month, and now each one is a tiny cup holding black seeds the size of grains of sand.
The droopy yellow flowers of bellwort…
…are also developing into little green fruits. And notice the way the stem of this plant appears to punch right through the leaf; the botanical term for this is “perfoliate,” and I think it looks really cool.
I went back out on the trails yesterday to photograph some of the wildflowers I’d found and ended up finding even more. Blooming in our woods at the moment are:
- Virginia bluebells
- Cutleaf toothwort
- Spring cress
- Dutchman’s breeches
- Yellow trout lily
- White trillium
- Lesser celandine (introduced from Europe)
- Rue anemone
- Wood anemone
- Small-flowered crowfoot
- Common blue violet
Additionally, the mayapples are up! They won’t bloom for another month yet but I love them for the way they appear everywhere almost overnight, like little green umbrellas unfurling from the ground. Wildflowers – finding them, identifying them, photographing them – are definitely addictive.