Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #11 Boxelder (Acer negundo), #12 Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), #13 Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), & #14 Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

Spring wildflower season has been slow to start, but things are beginning to pick up.  Yesterday, I added four more species.

The first species was another tree.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #11 Boxelder (Acer negundo)

Also known as the Ash-leaved Maple, Boxelder (Acer negundo) is the only native maple tree with compound leaves. Commonly found in wet areas such as floodplains, stream banks, and along the shores of wetlands,  Boxelder does not tolerate shade well.  Therefore it is rarely found in thick woodlands.  Because it grows rapidly, Boxelder will often colonize newly disturbed sites.

Boxelder flowers in mid-Spring (April to May) either before the tree develops leaves or as the leaves are growing.  One distinguishing feature of this flower is the hairy pedicles (flower stalks) of the male flowers.

These photographs were taken along the Chippewa River at Chipp-A-Waters Park.

Boxelder along the Chippewa River

The Boxelder produces many wind-pollinated flowers

Male flowers of a Boxelder

Dangling flowers and emerging leaves of Boxelder

Wildflowers of 2014 - #12 Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)

The second wildflower was also found at Chipp-A-Waters Park.  It was another Spring ephemeral, Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata).  Spring ephemerals are wildflowers that complete their annual cycle of growth and blooming before the overhead canopy leafs out.

Although many Toothwort plants were present, only a few had begun to bloom.  This Spring's cold cloudy weather has slowed the blooming of many species, including Cut-leaved Toothwort. 

Cut-leaved Toothwort - note the deeply lobed leaves that contribute to the plant's name

Cut-leaved Toothwort

The next two flowers were photographed at Mission Creek Woodland Park.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #13 Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

One of my favorite Spring wildflowers is the Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).  Marsh Marigold is the first yellow flower of the year.  It is not a pale buttery-yellow, but rather a bright, glossy lemon yellow.  It STANDS out, especially in shadowy habitats like swamps where it seems to glow like the sun.  This flower has just begun to bloom.  Over the next few weeks it will carpet the floor of the hardwood and conifer swamps along Mission Creek.

A pair of bright yellow Marsh Marigold blooms stand out in this green dominated scene
A mound of Marsh Marigold with its heart-shaped leaves and a single open bloom

The bright glossy lemon-yellow blooms of Marsh Marigold
Wildflowers of 2014 - #14 Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

The final new wildflower of the day was another one with a yellow bloom.  I have been searching for flowers of the Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) for the past two weeks, but had not found a flower until I stumbled upon this one by accident.  The woods in the upper part of Mission Creek park are carpeted with the Yellow Trout Lily's speckled leaves.  Most of these plants have a single small leaf - these plants will not flower this year.  It can take many years for a Trout Lily to store enough energy in its corm (bulb) to produce a pair of leaves and a flower.  While the petals on this flower are only partially open, as the bloom progresses the petals will curl back revealing the flower's pistil and stamen.

Yellow Trout Lily - note the mottled leaves that give the species its name

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