Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hepatica and Tootwort are Blooming

Hepatica is blooming in southern Virginia. This is actually one of the last ones to bloom this year. I found this beautiful plant yesterday (March 28). It was sitting beside a rock in the shade, and made a picture-perfect image. I have already printed a copy for my wall.
This is a closeup of Toothwort. Like any obedient member of the mustard family, Tootwort flowers have FOUR petals. I found this yesterday before I found the Hepatica (above). This is one of those wider shots intended mostly to show the context in which I found the above plant. If you look at the plant on the right side, the taller one, you might recognize the same plant that appears in the closeup above. Closeups are my favorite, but sometimes a wider perspective can help a person get a better sense of what the wildflower looks like in the woods. Note the leaves on this "Cut-Leaf" Toothwort. The Broad-Leaf Toothwort has wider lobes in its pointy, jagged leaves.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bloodroot is in Full Bloom

These are my most recent photographs of bloodroot, all taken within the past week. Last year, I rescued a whole bunch of these from a road construction project, and planted them under a maple tree in my back yard where they get sufficient shade (once the maple leaves fill out) and moisture to survive the summer. Anyway, here are several different views of bloodroot, the first showing the general appearance of the plant when the flower is in bloom. The other photos (below) are my attempts to be a bit creative and try a variety of perspectives. I am happy to say that many of these blooms have stayed fresh and pretty for three or four days. Much of this depends on the weather. A hard rain would have knocked the petals off the plants. But since these flowers opened up, we have had no rain. Enjoy these beautiful plants while you can. They bloom for a very short amount of time. Later this spring, I plan to post pictures of the seed pods (stringbean shaped) with the increasingly larger and somewhat darker green leaves.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bloodroot in Virginia

About 20 minutes ago, I posted a shot similar to this one (below) but this time around I am showing a later shot from the same series. If you compare this shot with the one in the previous post, you can see that I moved a small piece of twig that had been lying against the stem. I also moved a small branch on the right edge of the frame that ran through the background and behind the petal of the flower. When working with the flower, at first I did not notice the distractins, but then I checked my depth of field preview and could see that the little scraps would interfere with my shot. So I brushed them away gently with my finger. I will NOT pick a plant to move it, but I will sometimes move a dead leaf or a branch or a stick. Perhaps it seems picky to worry about such small little sticks in the photo, but when photographing wildflowers, I want to do my best.
And I got out the trusty chapstick to help show the size of this tiny flower. Bloodroots at this same stage CAN be 6 inches high, but this one flowered before its stem got very long. There can be great variation in bloodroot development depending on the temperature and rainfall. Warmer temperatures trigger the opening of the flower, and lots of rainfall tends to make the stem grow long. Here we had warmth, without much rain.

Bloodroot Today

I found this pretty little flower blooming today in southwestern Virginia in the Thomas Jefferson National Forest. I have been tracking a few individuals of this species, trying to catch a variety of stages of its growth. For those who are curious, its Latin name is Sanguinaria Canadensis. I don't usually like to get too technical, but the Latin name can help some folks make a positive ID. This individual is also shown below, including with the chapstick for perspective. This plant was in full flower today, but I regret to say it was not exactly photogenic. And then the worst part is, on my way BACK down the trail at the end of my afternoon, I noticed that the flower had been PLUCKED. So the photo you see here is of a plant that no longer has its flower, and will be unable to make seeds this year. I suspect a person decided to pick the "pretty flower" on their way walking down the trail. I feel sad and upset when this happens because most wildflowers WILT very soon after being picked, so the picker soon tosses them in the dirt and walks away. These are not the supermarket type of flowers that are made to sit in a vase or get pinned to a shirt. So PLEASE NEVER PICK WILDFLOWERS, not even ONE.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bloodroot Sprouting in Virginia

Here is a bloodroot sprout that I found on March 15 in southern Virgina. It is one of those things that a person is very unlikely to see unless he or she actually knows where to look. And why? Because this thing is EXTREMELY small. Check out the following photo to get an idea of its size. I would have used a penny, but did not have one. But I did have my chapstick!
Yes, I am talking VERY SMALL, extremely small. But see, I had been to that same location last year and the year before, so I knew where to look, EXACTLY where to look, and that is what I did. I was excited to see this plant at this stage. I plan to return this week to get more shots. My guess is that now, a few days later, the plant is already starting to bloom. The only reason why it might not be blooming yet is because the weekend was very cold. I am busy today, but hope to return there tomorrow!
Just for fun, I am including this shot of bloodroot (from last year), showing the flower as it first opens up on its first day. Check lower on this main page (or in the February archive) to see more shots of bloodroot, which I posted a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hepatica in the Smokies

Last week, Hepatica was blooming on the Cove Hardwood Forest trail near Chimney Tops Picnic area. I got this photo on March 9th. It was late in the day, a couple hours before sunset, and it was full sun. I normally would have diffused a shot like this to avoid too much contrast, but the light was just weak enough that I think it "works" as is. I like the way the sun reflects off the petal and shows the texture of the petal. This is the natural color, just as I saw it that day.
I got this photo on March 8th on my way to the Greenbriar area (also toward the trail for Ramsey Cascade). I got a similar shot in late April of last year, and I like comparing them.
Here is the forest a bit further down the road, closer to the start of Greenbriar Trail. I plan to return later this season to get more shots for the sake of comparison. I love to see how the forsest changes each spring!
This was also March 8, near the trail to Ramsey Cascade. This trillium will eventually unwrap its leaves to reveal a yellow flower. Its Latin name is Trillium luteum. Again, even though it was full sun that day, it was close enough to sunrise that the sunlight was not too intense.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Smokies Spring

Spring has arrived in the Smokies! Yesterday I found Hepatica in bloom on a sunny hillside in the Cove Hardwood forest near the Chineytops Picnic area. I found lots of toothwort leaves, but no buds yet. I found a few spring beauties, and 1 in bloom! Today, in the Greenbriar and Ramseys Cascade area, I found the early leaves of yellow trillium. Also I found wild geranium sprouts... The sun was bright, but somewhat low in the sky (thus not too harsh) so I got some pretty nice side-lighting. I also got several landscapes of tall straight trees, hoping to return later to the same locations to repeat the landscape shots to show how the forest changes... Stay tuned for more images and stories now that spring has returned. To see some spring shots from last year (and some fall shots too), please check this link: