“It’s spring, we will be fine,” John said when co-lead Donna Quin worried the trail would be too muddy, or it might rain, or it was too chilly for the flowers to be open on April 9. And John was right. Ephemeral means brief, and to see the ephemeral wildflowers you need to be there, regardless of the conditions. The rain paused and the sun appeared, and soon a carpet of spring beauties was revealed. A group of 15 led by naturalist and educator John DeMary answered the invitation and entered the beautiful brief, but timeless, ephemeral season.
Wildflowers in bloom included Spring Beauties, Bluets, Cut-leaf Toothwort, Rue Anemone, Pussytoes, Early Saxifrage, Rock Cress, Bloodroot, Twinleaf, Shooting Star (in bud), Trout Lily (yellow as well as white), Virginia Bluebell, Dutchman’s Breeches, Squirrel Corn, Blue Cohash, Wild Ginger, Sessile Trillium, various violet spies, Star Chickweed and Yellow Corydalis. Spicebush was almost past bloom and Paw Paws were in bud, ready to pop open. We did not see Serviceberry in bloom although we thought we would.
BJ Lecrone inspired us to pull garlic mustard along the way, and Jennie Vick reminded us of the word we couldn’t remember, myrmecochory, which is the term used for seed dispersal by ants. John kept the trail lively with stories about what the forests were like before we cut them, why so many of these plants are named ‘virginias’ or ‘canadas’, how bees are directed to pollinate flowers by ultraviolet nectar guide lines, and his extensive knowledge about the fascinating ephemerals. As if on cue, newly-arrived Louisiana Waterthrush and resident Barred Owl called during our walk reminding us to occasionally look up.
Birds seen or heard on the walk included: American Robin, Chipping Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Eastern Bluebird, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downey Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Double Crested Cormorant, Louisiana Waterthrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Belted Kingfisher, Turkey Vulture, Fish Crow, Red-shouldered Hawk and Barred Owl.