Compressed (part 3)

And here are a few more early spring bloomers to watch for in the Potomac Gorge.

Not as common as some of the flowers in yesterday’s post, but still easily found in rocky areas, are early saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis, formerly Saxifraga virginiensis), which are the white flowers on the right in this photo, and smooth rockcress (Boechera laevigata, formerly Arabis laevigata), which is the plant in bud on the left.

Growing right on top of boulders, the incomparably wispy and delicate lyre-leaved rockcress (Arabidopsis lyrata, formerly Arabis lyrata) are in full bloom already, but they have a long bloom period.
Also growing right on rocks, though in more open, sunny areas, is moss phlox (Phlox subulata). It, too, has a long bloom period.

Its cousin wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) is just starting to open in the dappled shade of the woods.

In a few upland areas, rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) are just starting.

 

 

Don’t forget to look up! Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is in full bloom.

 

 

 

 

Another yellow-flowering woody plant is leatherwood (Dirca palustris), but it’s uncommon. If you find a stand please post a comment!

 

 

And in deep shade on the forest floor, there are toadshades (Trillium sessile), delightful even before they flower.

 

 

Variations on a Theme: Rockcresses

The taxonomists are at it again.  Most of the guide books still classify the rock cresses in the genus Arabis, but recently most New World species have been moved to either Boechera or Arabidopsis.

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lyre-leaved rockcress, aka sandcress (Arabidopsis lyrata, formerly Arabis lyrata)

 

 

 

Lyre-leaved rockcress is a mostly northern species, found across Canada and the northeastern US, with small, isolated populations found further to the south. It’s endangered in Massachusetts, and threatened in Ohio and Vermont

Needing very little soil, it doesn’t tolerate competition from other plants, but will grow happily by itself right out of rocks.

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smooth rockcress (Boechera laevigata, formerly Arabis laevigata)

 

 

 

Smooth rockcress seems to enjoy a little more soil than lyre-leaved; it can be found in rocky woods and ledges, but seldom growing right out of the rock.  It ranges from Quebec south to Georgia, and west into some of the Great Plains states, and is threatened in Maine and Massachusetts.

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The rockcresses are in the Brassicaceae (mustard family).