Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ephemeral Woods

The first wave of ephemeral flowers is waning, including the last of the Bloodroot, above, now replaced by a single, giant leaf for capturing the diminished sunlight of the greening woods.

Now, Wood Anemone, Anemone quinquefolia, can be seen in clusters, although not always in flower.

Here, a pink-hued Wood Anemone flower next to the inflorescence of Pennsylvania Sedge.

 And here, in white.

I am most excited to find large patches of Cutleaf Toothwort, Cardamine concatenata, on the northeast facing slopes, under the dying oaks and growing sugar maples.

I've become critically aware of the value of dying trees and fallen timber to the continuity of all life within the woods.

A tree growing for over a century dies (I've counted rings). The loss of leaves allows sunlight and additional moisture.

Maybe the tree is blown down in a violent summer storm or felled by constant gusts behind a strong winter cold front. As it falls, its massive, dense wood contorts and dismembers younger trees on its way down, creating an even bigger hole in the canopy.

Seeds that have moved via wind, runoff, or even more so by insects and small animals may be well placed, lying in wait for this opportunity to sprout. But you didn't notice because all that concerned you was the giant that came crashing down. A couple of years or more later, the presence of the fallen giant less prominent, there in the clearing is something new.

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