The Spring Ephemerals, part 2

Everything is different this spring. So many more people are out enjoying the trails, which is great but for two things: overuse and poor (or no) social distancing. For these reasons I might not be going out often, but I can still blog with old pictures.

Floodplains along the river are overflowing with Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica; Boraginaceae). Usually colored a pure, intense blue (I call it borage blue), the color can be lighter, or a pale violet, or all pink, or pure white.



Mixed in with these, and also found upslope in slightly drier soils, you can see wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata; Polemoniaceae).

Moss phlox (P. subulata) might be blooming by now. If not, it will within a week or so. Look for it sprawling over rocks; the plants stand only a few inches tall. The flowers are almost identical to those of wild blue phlox, but the plants’ growth habits are completely different.

This is How it Should Be

I took this shot late Monday morning, on one of the many seasonal islets in the Potomac – the small spits of land that are islands when the river is running high, but connected to the mainland via channels when the river is low.

Isn’t it glorious? The entire forest floor was carpeted in Virginia bluebells, as well as significant quantities of wild blue phlox and some golden ragwort. I didn’t look hard, but there were no alien species visible.

I bet a Weed Warrior is maintaining it.

In other news, the season is moving along. Dutchman’s breeches and cut-leaved toothwort are pretty much done, and so are the trout lilies. Spicebush is leafing out. Look up and you can see bladdernut and pawpaw blooming. Look way down and you can see wild ginger. There’s also sessile bellwort, golden Alexanders, short-spurred corydalis, and Coville’s phacelia.