Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Beauty Sprout

Here is a spring beauty sprout, which I found in a forest in eastern Iowa on Thursday. It was emerging on a north facing slope, which was still speckled with patches of snow. I searched through the thin layers of snow still remaining to find as many neat shots as time would allow. To give a sense of size here, if I had included my chapstick behind the sprout, the chapstick would reach across the frame (from left to right) and just barely fit.
The plant starts out appearing pink, due to the absense of chlorophyll. The chlorophyll begins to develop with exposure to the sun, during which time the plant becomes more and more green. With time, the stem will straighten up and grow taller, and the leaves will lengthen and become somewhat plump.
The tiny "nubs" under the arch of the arch are the undeveloped buds. Eventually they will develop into white flowers with pink veins and pink pollen. Each stem will produce anywhere from 4 to 12 (approximately), blooming in sequence from the top of the stem toward the bottom. Typically one or two flowers bloom at a time, but toward the peak season, sometimes a single stem can have three or four all at once.
It's wonderful to be back in Iowa for my first Iowa spring in 14 years.


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