Nature Notes

Vol. VIII June 1st, 1930 No. 6

Spring Flowers

star flower, lady slipper, and sweet after death

This is the season which heralds the beginning of another triumphant march of flowers up the slopes of "The Mountain". For several weeks their "advance guard" has been storming the boundary of the Park with here and there venturesome individuals -- Coltsfoot, Skunk Cabbage, Violet and Trillium -- having succeeded in establishing themselves within our borders. In the deep woods the soil is soft and springy and here , in the moist humus, the Ladyslipper finds conditions to its liking. "Wild Orchid" some call it for it belongs to the Orchid family while its beauty is eulogized in its generic title -- Calypso -- for Calypso, as you know, was that ancient enchantress who in Homer's "Oddesy" ensnared Ulysses and delayed his return from the conquest of Troy for seven years. And likewise does the charm of that ancient sea nymph's floral namesake cause the hiker to pause a moment on the trail for it is without doubt the most distinctively formed flower of our woods. Upon a slender, nodding stem five rose colored petals overhang a slipper-like pouch of brownish-pink that is also mottled with purple to give the flower a very unusual appearance. And while they are not rare they are not abundant enough to cause familiarity to breed contempt.

pink corydalis

No one could mistake the Star Flower for any thing else. Even those who see it for the first time find, on account of the form of the blossom, the accepted common name instinctively upon their lips. The six petaled, delicate pink blossoms are found at the end of a very slender stem. Two such stems arise from a whorl of light green leaves -- each bearing a flower -- and, as is generally the case they are found in company with others of the same kind of plants to cover quite extensive areas in the shaded, sun-flecked forost. Among those present, too, is the Sweet-After-Death whose conspicuous leaflets upon the tall stem are quite noticeable everywhere at the lower elevations now. Its common name, Vanilla Leaf, which also serves instead of the more familiar "Sweet-After Death", further calls attention to the fact that the leaves are sweet smelling after being dried. The flowers are white and borne in a loose cluster at the top of the slender flower stem which generally follows the development of the leaf. Before the flowers of the Pink Corydalis appear we might easily mistake the character of its succulent stems and foliage for the well known Bleeding Heart for the two belong to the same family and resemble each other a great deal in that manner.

collinsia, forest anemone

There are many others about us varying in number and stage of development -- Collensia, Forest Anemone, Star-flowered Solomen Seal, Wild Lily-Of-The-Valley, various species of Claytonia and many others to form a labyrinth of botanical growth -- great trees with their canopy of foliage above us, ferns, lichens, shrubs, vine-like growths, mosses. Such is the beauty of our woods -- a beauty so complex yet at the same time so harmonious that is seems almost unreal, like a stage setting of some woodland idyll.

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