The Spring Ephemerals, part 4: Trout Lilies and Toadshade

I love all the spring ephemerals; can’t say which are my favorites. But trout lilies are way up there.

Of the twenty some species of Erythronium, two are found in Maryland (maybe three depending on which authority you consult): E. americanum (yellow trout lily) and E. albidum (white trout lily). The latter is listed S2/threatened by the Maryland DNR. I figured I’d miss seeing both this year, but a little luck and persistence led me to a single white one blooming, and in the process I found a hillside covered in yellow ones (I stopped counting at 35). Here are a few pictures.

I know of two spots where white trout lilies grow. I spent more than an hour searching one of those areas after someone posted a picture of a white trout lily blooming. Couldn’t find it. Hiked to another area, shot the yellow trout lilies, then decided to go back for one more look. Pulled out my phone and searched for the picture, and sure enough, there were enough clues in it that I was able to narrow my search to a small area. Et voila! The one shown here in bud was from the other location, the day before.

Toadshade is a species of trillium, T. sessile (Melanthiaceae). The three maroon petals stay closed; the plants shown here are in full bloom.  

End of March Update for the Potomac Gorge

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lyre-leaved rock cress, in its favorite place

 

 

It’s a strange season. Lots of different plants are blooming, but not in the vast quantities I would expect. Several species are blooming rather early, or very early, like a full two weeks sooner than last year (not unexpected given a very warm autumn and winter).

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star chickweed
quiz: how many petals are on this flower? (answer below)

 

 

On Monday, March 28, harbinger-of-spring was done. Otherwise, the plants I reported on last week are still going, and nothing has hit its peak yet.  To that list add

…quiz answer: five; each of the petals is deeply divided into two lobes, so that a single petal appears to be two

Variations on a Theme: Toadshade

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Trillium sessile; Liliaceae

Toadshade, like so many red-brown flowering plants, is pollinated by flies and beetles.  The flower is stalkless (hence “sessile”) and the three petals remain mostly closed. It’s a low-growing, clump forming plant that loves deep shade, and shows the trilateral symmetry so often seen in monocots:

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It ranges from New York (where it’s endangered) and Michigan (where it’s threatened) in the north to North Carolina in the south and west as far as Oklahoma.

A somewhat rare yellow variety can be found near Carderock.  Native plant enthusiasts all seem to know where the clump is and always go pay it a visit.

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I love this plant beyond reason.  I can’t explain it other than to say that the common name makes me laugh.

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