Thursday, March 27, 2014

Neighbors Easily Missed

Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
Winter leaves of Cranefly Orchid
(Tipularia discolor)
Went to visit my Bloodroot neighbors this morning, and ran into a family of Cranefly Orchids on the way. There are a lot more Cranefly Orchids in the neighborhood than I realized. Even when they are in bloom, they're easy to miss. This summer wildflower is leafless when blooming, and it's tiny flowers blend and disappear easily in the dim light of the summer forest floor. Its leaves appear in autumn, last through the winter, but then are withered and gone by the time the orchid blooms in late summer.

Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
Dried seed pod of Cranefly Orchid


Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)










I'm glad I caught the Bloodroots when I did. They've been in bloom for about a week now, and their flowering appears to be nearing its end for the year. Though they're adapted for the rigors of early blooming, this family lives next to a nearby creek and I expect the cold (18ºF) was a little rough on them. Seeing Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in bloom is not easy around here. They live only in scattered populations, and they bloom only for a week or two. You have to know when and where to look, otherwise you'll miss their fragile white blooms. If you're lucky enough to find a population of Bloodroot, you should note when and where so you can visit again next year.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Fading Bloodroot bloom against its distinctive leaf
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Spent Bloodroot leaf, perhaps hurried along by 18º weather

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