Tuesday 23 April 2024

Early spring wildflower parade, and the silliness of social media

 A few weeks ago, someone posted a photograph of a beautiful Tulip-tree flower in excellent bloom. The leaves were fully developed and the flower looked quite attractive. Here is a photo of what it would look like in peak flowering.

The person who posted it got it from a friend, who was adamant that because of the warmer than usual winter southern Ontario had experienced, the Tulip-tree flowers at Rondeau Provincial Park were in full bloom even in late March! Even though it was pointed out that this was highly unlikely, the person who posted it stuck to the narrative, and at least a few others who saw the post bought into it.

Totally ridiculous!!!

Here is what the Rondeau forest looked like on April 14. 

There are lots of Spicebush coming into flower, as detected by the yellowish cast of the lower woody plants, but of course they flower before the leaves develop. There are Tulip Trees in this photo, but the leaves are undeveloped and there certainly are no flowers. The normal flowering date for this species is at least late May, depending on the year, but more often in early June.

Conclusion: it just goes to show how mis-leading, even somewhat useless, social media can be. I am sure that most readers of Nature Nuggets would not have fallen for such a silly post.

On to the real world.

With the sunnier, warmer days that have sometimes occurred in recent weeks, some of the early spring wildflowers are a bit ahead of themselves, at least by a few days. I have been out exploring some inland woodlots, such as Clear Creek Forest Prov Park, as well as the McKerrall Forest and Sinclair's Bush, all of which are a bit warmer than Rondeau which is very much affected by the surrounding cool waters of Lake Erie. While the trees are not yet in leaf, the spring wildflowers take advantage of all of the sunlight reaching the forest floor, as shown in this next photo of Clear Creek Forest.There is a hint of greenery, from the smaller spring wildflowers, shown here.

Here are some of the ones I was able to photograph at various places.

Bloodroot is normally one of the earliest, and they are still in flower.

As the forest photo of Rondeau shows above, the abundance of Spicebush is obvious, in part due to the decline of mature beech and ash trees which has allowed a lot more sunlight to get to the forest floor. This results in a huge profusion of Spicebush.

Virginia Spring Beauty

Dutchman's Breeches

Early Blue Cohosh

Cut-leaved Toothwort

Purple Cress
Red Trillium typically opens in flower slightly earlier than their white counterpart, and sure enough I saw more Reds in flower than Whites.
Most of the White Trilliums were open enough to see which species it was, as shown next....
...and I did see the occasional one completely open, especially if it was on a south facing slope which made it slightly warmer.
Yellow Trout Lily has lots and lots of the typical leaves visible scattered across the forest floor. A fair number of the plants may be in full flower if it is a sunny day.
Skunk Cabbage typically flowers before showing the leaves. A previous post showed the flowers, with virtually no leaf parts showing. Now, the opposite is the case, as the large green leaves are well developed and the purplish/yellow flower at the base is much harder to see.
Virginia Bluebells are a rather rare spring wildflower, and normally does not open up much until at least the end of the first week in May. I have a small clump in my yard, and this has been open for a few days. This photo was taken today, April 23.
The sandy soils of open places at Rondeau have many of the Early Butttercup in good flower.

When on the prowl looking for wildflowers, there are other things within view which I try and photograph. Butterflies are fairly plentiful due to the influx of Red Admiral and American Painted Lady.

Red Admiral

American Painted Lady

There are others as well, such as Eastern Comma and Spring Azure, although some butterfly persona would just call the latter species an Azure of the Celastrina complex.

Just for a bit more diversity, here are some turtles that are enjoying the sunnier days. Midland Painted Turtles, shown first, are quite abundant....

...whereas the Northern Map Turtle, next, is considerably less common.

Birds are showing up in greater numbers and diversity. I expect the next post to feature primarily birds.

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  1. Love those three weeks when all the spring ephemerals bloom!

    1. It is indeed a fun, and rewarding, time of year to see the flush of spring wildflowers!