As I drive around different parts of the Gorge, I tend to drive-by botanize which basically means trying to identify plants from behind the steering wheel. Up until a week and a half ago, I was seeing very little in the way of early blooming wildflowers. It has just been so cold this winter that nothing has seemed quite ready to emerge, as if waiting for the definite arrival of spring and the ceasing of cold temperatures and frost which can really mess up tender flower buds.
Every year about this time, I try to make a point to get into Bat Cave Preserve to see the spring beauties (Claytonia caroliniana), which typically blanket the forest floor this time of year. Most years I'm either too early or too late to catch them. This year I got there just as they were starting (about a week late compared to normal springs), knowing that my chances would not be too good of seeing any by the time the next opportunity arrives.
|Spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana)|
As I hiked the trail in Bat Cave Preserve, I was pleased to see that spring was finally arriving, as nearly all of the sunny spots had something blooming. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) was quite prolific and yielded several good shots. Bloodroot is named for the red color of the sap in the rhizome which has been historically used as a red dye.
|Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)|
|Acute-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba)|
|Another shot of hepatica with last year's leaves still present.|
|Little sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum)|
|This trillium is a mutant. It never flowers and always has at least three sets of cladophylls.|
|Walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum)|
|Shining clubmoss (Lycopodium lucidulum)|