Early spring wildflowers, the spring ephemerals, are vivid reminders of the fragile beauty and existence of life on earth. They tease and please with spectacular, short-lived blooms. They always leave us wanting more, and we’re quite willing to wait another year for another show. It never gets old.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier), a small flowering tree
Marsh Marigold in the wet soil along a small stream
White Trillium, a woodland wildflower favoring rich, moist soils (1 of 2)
Red Trillium in filtered light on a rich woodland site
Fringed Polygala (also Gaywings, Bird-on-the-wing and other common names) reportedly occurs in most counties in New York State, yet I seldom see this colorful, woodland gem. It’s tiny – just a few inches tall – so I have probably overlooked it on some of my field trips. Site preferences may also be a factor. The small colony that I visit each May occupies a well-drained, acidic, upland habitat in an oak-maple-hemlock woodland – an uncommon association in these parts that I don’t often visit.
When I discovered Fringed Polygala years ago, I was sure I was looking at an orchid and couldn’t wait to dig into my field guides to learn more. Apparently I wasn’t alone in my ignorance, because both of my reliable references said “Not an orchid — it’s in the Milkwort family”!
Woodland wildflowers. In dappled sunlight on moist, fertile soils. As solitary plants or in clumps, patches and carpets; in every size, color and growth form imaginable; and with blooms that fade as quickly as they appear. The story of the spring ephemerals is told over and over again, the scenes observed each and every year in April and May. But, Mother Nature is the supreme story teller, and it never gets old.
In memory, and honor, of mothers around the globe.