Thursday, April 06, 2006

Return of the Wildflowers

One aspect of early spring that always excites me greatly is the return of wildflowers. I am not talking here about the many cultured blossoms that are among the leading indicators of spring's return, such as crocuses and daffodils. I am talking about the delicate and short-lived flowers that bloom spontaneously in meadows and on forest floors.

Cherry blossoms are rightly celebrated here for their dazzling display. In this post I would like to highlight some of their wild cousins. Below are some wildflowers that I noticed on my walk through Roosevelt Island on Wednesday evening. In addition to the flowers displayed here, I saw a patch of Virginia Bluebells. Unfortunately I could not get close enough to them for a good picture.

This flowering tree, on the south end of Roosevelt Island, is either a hawthorne or an apple. The two genera are closely related. I suspect hawthorne, because the dark tips on the stamens seems to be more of a hawthorne characteristic, from what I see in the field guides. I am willing to be corrected on that point.

Mayapples are sprouting all over the forest floor.

This Golden Ragwort was near the boardwalk in the wooded swamp. Ragworts are part of the aster family, which includes daisies, goldenrod, and similar species.

A small patch of Spring Beauties was on the western side of the island. This photograph does not quite show how delicate these flowers are. The stems are so thin that it is a wonder that they can hold up the flowers at their tips. Indeed, a lot of them were slumped over. What first caught my attention about this flower were the thin purple veins on the petals.

A robin led me to this flower. I noticed a robin digging in the vegetation at the side of the trail. After the robin scurried off, I went over to see what it was doing, and I found a small patch of these flowers. This is a Trout Lily, also known as a Dogtooth Violet or Yellow Adder's Tongue. I suspect the name Trout Lily is derived from the brown and white mottling on the leaves.