Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #19 Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), #20 Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), #21 Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis)

Earlier this week I found three more wildflowers to add to my list for 2014.  These three species bring the total for the year up to twenty-one species as of May 5th.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #19 Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

This plant is a species that I have been watching for a week, waiting for blooms to open.  The weather was finally warm enough and the sun was out from the clouds long enough for a few Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) blooms to open.  When the blooms on this flower are completely open, they are the largest flowers of any Spring-flowering plants in Mid-Michigan.  Some Trillium flowers may be up to 5.5 inches across.

Like many of the other species that I have photographed this year, these flowers are currently blooming in the rear part of Chipp-A-Waters Park in Mt. Pleasant. 

To learn more about the Large-flowered Trillium, look at this species profile I posted in 2013

Large-flowered Trillium accompanied by Blue Cohosh

The name trillium means "a Lily (lilium) with three (tri) parts"

Large-flowered Trillium - note the parts in threes (petals, sepals, and leaves)

Wildflowers of 2014 - #20 Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

The second wildflower of the day was Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides).  This is another Spring ephemeral - it completes its yearly cycle of flowering and growth before the overhead trees leaf out.  While the Large-flowered Trillium has very large noticeable flowers, the pale green flowers of the Blue Cohosh are small and inconspicuous.  Despite the small size of the flowers, this plant is visited by a variety of pollinators including bumblebees.  After pollination, the plant produces small dark-blue berries that often remain on plant stalks throughout Summer, Fall, and Winter.

Blue Cohosh - note the bluish colored stems and the smale pale-green flowers

A closer view of the Blue Cohosh flowers

The blue berries of Blue Cohosh often remain on the plant's dried stalks until the following Spring.
Wildflowers of 2014 - #21 Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis)

The third flower of the day is a close relative of the Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) that I photographed on April 21stSquirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis) has the same fern-like leaves as Dutchman's Breeches - in different shade of green.  Like Dutchman's Breeches, it also has white flowers that hang from a stalk, but instead of looking like pairs of pants hanging by their ankles, the flowers of Squirrel Corn look more like hearts.

Squirrel Corn - note the fern-like leaves and heart-shaped flowers

A closer view of the Squirrel Corn flowers

So why is the plant called Squirrel Corn?  If you dig up the roots of the plant you will find these small pale-yellow bulblets (tubers) that resemble kernels of corn.  Squirrels, chipmunks, and mice will often dig up this plant to consume the bulblets.

Squirrel Corn is named after these yellow root nodules

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