Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What's Blooming - Thursday 30 April 2015

Last week I posted a few photographs that I had taken of a Barred Owl during a walk the previous day.  The owl was a great surprise, but it wasn't the reason that I went into the woods.  I actually went in search of Spring wildflowers.  My first stop was Chipp-A-Waters Park.  Chipp-A-Waters Park is located along the Chippewa River on the southwest side of Mt. Pleasant.  It has a variety of wooded habitats including floodplain forest and beech/sugar maple forest.  The best place for spring ephemeral wildflowers at Chipp-A-Waters park is along a series of old riverbanks that are elevated above the surrounding floodplain.  Unfortunately, this area is becoming degraded by the incursion of invasive species.  I have managed to keep the Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) away from the best wildflower areas so far, but things do not look good in the long run. 

Chippewa River floodplain overgrown with Garlic Mustard
I did find a few Garlic Mustard plants in the prime wildflower areas of the park, but as of right now they can be controlled by hand pulling.  Here are a few photographs of the wildflowers that I am trying to protect.

A large expanse of Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum) - these plants flower later in the summer after the leaves die back

Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Dutchman's Breeches - a closer view showing the namesake flowers

Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardmine concatenata)

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

A bonus that I found during my photographing of wildflowers was this small Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis).  This snake measured between 12 and 18 inches long and I initially found it by hearing crawl through the dead leaves that litter the forest floor.  It was quite calm and i was able to get within a couple of feet to photograph it.

After leaving Chipp-A-Waters Park I headed to the north side of Mt. Pleasant to look for more flowers at Mission Creek Woodland Park.  Mission Creek is very different than Chipp-A-Waters in terms of habitat.  While it does have a large section of beech/sugar maple forest, my favorite parts of the park consist of forested wetlands, both northern hardwood-conifer swamp and southern hardwood swamp

All of the following photographs were taken in the wetlands area of the park.

Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Two-leaf Mitrewort (Mitella diphylla)

Scouring Rush (Equisetum hyemale)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) leaf growing through the decayed remains of a White Birch log

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