Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More Maryland Wildflowers - 2nd Week of April

Deciding which native plant to use in a developed suburban landscape was fairly straightforward for me.  I could choose the plants I wanted without regard for to how it would impact the surrounding plant communities.  [Re]-introduction of nearly any native species into a sea of Euonymus and Barberries and the like would be a step in the right direction.

Now that I am working in a rural landscape I am becoming more sensitive to how my new plantings will affect the existing plant and animal communities.  I am cautious about introducing species that don't belong, native or not.  One very helpful resource for me is Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping Chesapeake Bay Watershed from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  This publication lists many native species found in the Chesapeake watershed including their native ecoregion (Mountain, Piedmont or Coastal) and state where each is found.  

As a designer I also want to insert some visual effects with form and color.  This may require broadening the plant palette, drawing in materials from other areas and even a few well behaved non-native plants to achieve a particular aesthetic effect.  In general I will utilize a wider variety of plants in the immediate vicinity of a house or other man-made feature.  As I move out to the edges of a property I narrow the plant selection to the regionally native species.  I try to avoid introducing any species that don't naturally belong there.  

So before I get too far in planning and planting new native gardens I need to do some surveys of what is already present.  This (finally) brings me to the topic of what I found growing during the second week of April.  The tree canopy was still pretty open and the woodland floor was really greening up.

The first thing that really hit me was the masses of Virginia Bluebells that were coming into bloom.  These started coming up about a month ago.  Some had purple tinged foliage that has since turned green.

I was very pleased to see large masses of Mayapples coming up, especially I had just bought a half dozen to plant along the driveway.  These look somewhat alien when they first break ground.  They have a large white flower that stays just under the leaf.  

Mayapple leaves open up like umbrellas, 6-8 inches across.  

Once leafed out Spicebush can still be identified by the spicy scent of its bark.

The number of Spring Beauties has finally peaked,
now the blooms remain only in the shadier spots.
Note the garlic mustard off to the right.

Spicebush was another plant that I had just purchased to add to driveway area.  I was very happy to see a large mass of these growing near the creek.  The little flower clusters add an 
ethereal yellow haze to the scene.  These are not as garish as the Forsythia that are also in full bloom at this time.  

The Spring Beauties, Claytonia virginica, are continuing to come out - now the ground is sprinkled with the pale pink blooms.  The Dutchman's Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, have also come into fuller bloom.  Some are white and others have a yellowish cast.  

Flowers started out a pale green
before opening up and turning white.

In with the Dutchman's Breeches is a plant with similar finely divided foliage, but this one had tubular yellow flowers.  It turns out that this is Yellow Fumewort, Corydalis flavula.  This native annual is 4-12 inches tall and has glaucous green foliage similar to other Corydalis.  I had never seen this before and was suspicious that it may some of the non-native Yellow Corydalis (C. lutea) that escaped from a garden.  The distinguishing feature from other yellow Corydalis (C. aurea and lutea) is that the upper lip of the flower is toothed.  This species is rare in New England, but not uncommon further south and west.

This winter annual was probably among the
early foliage seen back in January
The upper lip of the flower is toothed.  Also,
 seed pods are visible just below the flower on the left.

Should be getting some yellow flowers from these Trout Lilies in a couple of weeks.
If they are white, then these would be White Trout Lily, E. albidum.
Down in the leaf litter I noticed the spotted leaves of Trout Lily, Erythronium.  No blooms or buds were evident at this time, so I will need to get back down to these is a week or so to catch them in bloom.  As I was climbing back up away from the stream I noticed that the Toothwort were finally in bloom.  The dangling white flowers are not spectacular on their own, but they complement the other ephemerals. The Woodland Phlox, Phlox divaricata, are putting up flower buds, but I did not see any in bloom.  Back up on the lawn I am seeing Common Blue Violet, Viola papilionacea, complemented by the yellow flowers of Rough CinquefoilPotentilla norvegica.  Oops, these are actually the non-native Indian Strawberry, Duchesnea indica, see the comments below.

Each flower stalk of these toothworts has a pair
of deeply tri-lobed leaves, hence the epithet  'diphylla'.

Woodland Phlox has formed it flower buds.  Opps, this is actually Cardamine laciniata.
Common Blue Violet has hairless flower stalks,
otherwise this could be Woolly Blue Violet, V. sororia.

Unlike other weedy Cinquifoils, Rough Cinquifoil has
trilobed leaves and relatively large blunt-tipped flowers.  However, this is actually
Indian Strawberry, Duchesnea indica. with larger flowers than the Cinquifoil
and later a red berry.

Along with all of these natives there is a large population of garlic mustard that are beginning to bloom now.  Removing these will be a long and tedious process.  I have put a supply of black trash bags around the property to collect these.  In areas where the soil is moist it is possible to get most of the root out by gently pulling the plant by its crown.  Garlic mustard has a lot of stored energy in its root and may be able to set seed even though it has been pulled out of the ground.  A good practice is to bag them up and let them bake in the sun for a while before sending them to the landfill.  Garlic mustard should not be put into your compost. However, it is edible and you can make a decent pesto from it.


Nicholas Weber said...

Great to see all the blooms!

One quick question though. Could you take some more pictures of the woodland phlox? The woodland phlox I have don't look the same as the one you have pictured. I'll be posting mine blooming once it happens.

Curtis said...

I will post some photos of phlox in bloom next time. These were out 3-4 days ago.

Anonymous said...

Wow you are so lucky! BTW the cinquefoil looks like my indian strawberry flowers... :( My property had been cleared and filled in before I bought it and there is really not a big variety of natives at all. I had to plant a lot of native plants to try to get variety...but the perennials and seeds I planted don't seem to compete well with the garlic mustard and stiltgrass. Except for aruncus which I am hoping turns out to be a thug, and which I believe is native. Your photos of native spring flowers are beautiful. I especially love the virginia bluebells. Photos don't do them justice.

Curtis said...

I rechecked the 'Rough Cinquifoil' and it is actually Indian Strawberry, Duchnea indica. The flower of the Cinquifoil is smaller and the bottoms of the leaves should be densely hairy (hirsute); mine had longer adpressed hairs (strigose). Thanks so much for noticing!


Anonymous said...

No probs Curtis. I can't help but notice the plants I've decided to give up eradicating. :D Indian strawberry and my other naturalized groundcover...cough...creeping charlie. On the positive side, they do require no mowing and have really attractive flowers. Have a nice weekend.

Anonymous said...

Your woodland phlox looks like toothwort.

Curtis said...

You're right that the phoro of Phlox divaracata is misidentified. This plant is different from the regular tooth wort, Dentaria diphylla, that is in the previous photo. Could it be cutleaf tooth wort, D laciniata??? It may be past bloom by now, but I should check if it is still around.