Park Nature: Early April

Here’s a few seconds of rain tapping hundreds of umbrellas. Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) were one of my first wildflowers, and are still a favorite. The fat, green parasols have a cartoony cuteness, as if the Lorax grew spring ephemerals under his Truffula trees. 

Today, I checked forked stems for blooms, but found only a few buds. I know better than to check single-leafed mayapples. During fieldwork in the Tennessee Naturalist Program, we learned a little ditty to remember one fact of mayapple reproduction: “If you’re old enough to fork, you’re old enough to fruit.” Only plants with two leaves are old enough to produce a flower, and even among two-leaved plants, flowers are not a sure thing. Mayapples are about 12 years-old before they fork and fruit.

I was alone on the trail for this video, which doesn’t often happen on Percy Warner’s Mossy Ridge. Thunderstorms kept away all but the most determined runners. My family was there because we were the most determined observers of What’s Blooming Now, which turned out to be:
dwarf larkspur,
dutchman’s breeches,
spring beauty,
rue anemone,
wood violet,
common violet,
and a white violet whose species I can’t remember.

We don’t want to miss a thing.

(mayapple bloom a few days later)