Monday, April 11, 2011

Time with Trout-lilies

White Trout-lily, Erythronium albidum

I seldom worry that what is found in a day outdoors will not be in some way extraordinary.
In early April, especially, when daily change makes the new of yesterday instantly old, I hate to miss even one day of it.

Sessile Trillium, Trillium sessile

Above the earth and from beneath its surface, life creeps back into a resting landscape.
Birds cross the sky.
Leaves burst from branches and flowers quickly fade.
In a matter of days, the bare deciduous woods have become densely leafed-out and green.

Catching the bloom of the earliest wildflowers of spring, the ephemerals, in their race to flower and set seed in the few brief weeks of penetrating sunlight, is not a task for the timid—for to each part practice, must be added two parts luck.
Brought back to life from their rest beneath the rich soil by warming ground, rainfall and increasing daylight, many get quickly to the business of blooms before their own leaves even emerge, using the reserves of energy held over winter in bulbs below ground. Others, with accelerated photosynthesis, manufacture carbohydrates at an incredibly fast rate, allowing great growth spurts in just several days.
A bare, brown, leaf-covered bank can become dotted with white trout-lilies almost overnight.
While days later, not one of their splayed petals remains.

Trout-lily before opening

The trail through Whipple State Nature Preserve leads immediately upward from a small parking pad just off the main road. Winding our way to the ridge atop the 30-foot dolomite cliffs, one flower appeared, then another.

Trout-lily open!

recurved petals

(all photos click to enlarge)

How many minutes do you spend with each one?

What part of a fleeting life can you hold onto?

Never too many.
Never enough.

Sunset at spring pond

Trout-lily colony

Trout-lilies are early-blooming native wildflowers and members of the lily family, having 3 petals and 3 sepals and 1 or 2 brown/red-spotted strap-like leaves. Sometimes found in large colonies in undisturbed deciduous woods decades old, younger, single-leafed plants do not flower.
White trout-lilies, Erythronium albidum, have flowers that are primarily white and tinged with varying degrees of blue and pink.

White Trout-lily
broad pink tint on sepals, narrow band of pink on petals

This post continues last week's adventures with the
Midwest Native Plant Society
and Jim McCormac.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Mel said...

Oh my. Your post is so lovely. My trout lilies are not up yet, but soon, very soon. The trilliums have just peeked out of the leaf litter here in Illinois. How much time do you spend with each one? I feel this way about the beautiful wildflowers in my yard too. I feel honored to spend time with them and always a bit anxious, knowing how fleeting their blooms will be. Thanks for taking us with you on your walk through the woods.

KaHolly said...

I love the annual daily hunt across the forest floor for spring ephemerals. Or the brisk paddle down the river to take in the beauty on the sloping shore!! I'll miss it this year, so thank you for your wonderful post! ~karen

nina said...

Mel and Karen--I don't think it's possible to ever get enough of these sweet spring wildflowers.
I've filled my camera to the bursting point and still find myself saying, "just one more" again.

Guy said...

Hi I have never seen trout lilies, so it was wonderful to see such tiny perfect flowers, especially when nothing is coming up here yet. It gives me hope for our spring flowers. The picture of the pond is spectacular. A great post.


Appalachian Lady said...

Your photos are great. I have been enjoying my walks in our woods but I have to go far to find trout lilies. They are a great find.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Trout lilies are so wonderful, it's suprising more people don't grow them. Mine are already blooming here in Chicagoland. I go out to visit with them several times a day. I just can't help myself.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Your writing and photography are beautiful.~~Dee

Kate said...

I love it when the trout lilies form a carpet of those pendant flowers in the forest. I found a yellow form to plant in my garden, but after witnessing its first showing this year, I have to say the white are still my favorite!