Compressed (part 2)

Here are some of the showier spring ephemerals to watch for in the Potomac Gorge this week.

In the floodplain close to the river, Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica; left) are approaching peak bloom. Mixed in with them in a few places are Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria; below right), which you might also find on moist, rocky outcroppings.

Trout lilies (Erythronium americanum; above left) like moist soils, too. Generally I see them in the transition areas between floodplain and slopes.

Further upslope are cut-leaf toothworts (Cardamine concatenata; left).


On drier slopes watch for scattered patches of bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis; below).



Look for twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla; below) in moist, rocky areas. They like limestone soils, so aren’t as widespread as these other species, but where they do grow they they tend to grow en masse.

Spring beauties (Claytonia virginica; below) are just about everywhere.





More tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “Compressed (part 2)

  1. Great pictures as always, especially the Dutchman’s breeches. They’re fun to photograph. Is the twinleaf photo from this year? They’re already blooming? I did a scouting trip on 3/29 and they hadn’t poked through the ground yet in the spots I checked. Found that a huge tree came down right in my 2nd-favorite twinleaf patch; another in my bloodroot spot. That windstorm changed things a lot.

    • Thanks! All of these photos are from Friday (4/6/18). I had a quick look again Sunday afternoon and the twinleaf was still blooming, with more buds starting.

      They’ve been clearing large trees along the towpath; sadly one of them came down right atop the round-lobe hepaticas. You’re right, the windstorm did change things.

  2. Did you just feature those first three a few days ago?
    Virginia bluebells is something I have seen only in pictures. The trout lily resembles those that live here, although the flowers are more colorful. Ours bloom with smaller and sickly greenish yellow flowers. I do not know the species. Our dicentra is a pink bleeding heart. Jeffersonia sounds familiar but I can not remember why.

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