Early Spring 2018

Our first walks of the season brought local residents and Boy Scouts from Troop 251 of Larimer. Special thanks to those young men for their interest in the park and their continued support of ongoing projects there. Their questions and enthusiasm made the afternoon an enjoyable one.

In the first few days of spring, snow gave way to the early risers of the plant kingdom. Many were found in the sunlit spots through the park where snow was scarce, but much of Braddock’s Trail remained a white blanket.

The snow melted quickly on this Saturday, and over the course of a few hours, the landscape changed dramatically as white turned to color. Let’s start with a new one to the blog. We don’t talk much about it because it doesn’t flower, but it’s a common sight as winter ends. Frequently called “onion grass” or “wild chive,” this plant makes its home in yards and wilderness alike. It’s completely edible, even its white, subterranean bulbs, and many use it as a garden chive substitute.

“Onion Grass”

Some of the first flowers to appear, and always near the parking lot are purple deadnettle and Persian speedwell. As Jack likes to point out, you don’t have to go far to see wildflowers. These two are commonly found in your own backyard.

Purple Deadnettle (top) and Persian Speedwell (bottom).
Narrow-leaf Spring Beauty

Narrow-leaf spring beauty (above) and harbinger of spring (below) are two of the earliest wildflowers to bloom in the park. Only a handful were seen on this day. Late-season snowfall and cold temperatures have delayed their cycles.

Harbinger of Spring

Cutleaf toothwort is easily identified by its jagged leaves. Many were hiding in the snow, but none were in bloom. By the time this post is published, they’ll have opened with four-petaled white flowers.

Cutleaf Toothwort

One of our morning walk participants spotted these young bloodroot plants near the stream at the top of the waterfall. Not many of them have been seen at the park, but based on this new sighting, they seem to be doing well. They enjoy well-drained soils and streams, so this new foothold suits them perfectly. Large, white flowers open in sunlight, close at night, and are short-lived.

Bloodroot

A few light purple hepatica were spotted in their usual area across the footbridge. They’ll be gone by mid to late April, and are brilliant when fully open. Expect them to be gone soon!

Hepatica

Some honorable mentions this week, which were identified by leaf patterns, are Dutchman’s breeches, waterleaf, Virginia bluebell, chickweed, and jewelweed. Dutchman’s breeches will bloom soon if it hasn’t already, along with chickweed. Virginia bluebell will follow later in April, followed by waterleaf, and then jewelweed in early summer.

Clockwise from top left: Dutchman’s breeches, waterleaf, jewelweed, and chickweed.

Please join us for our second walk on Saturday, April 14 at 10:30 A.M.

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Mid-April 2016

April 16, 2016

A common interjection used on our walk today was “wow.” That’s hardly the word to describe the experience of our largest group of participants in the last several years, but it did the trick. Let’s start with the most obvious “wow” of the day. An April snow shower last week didn’t keep one of the state’s largest populations of Blue-eyed Mary from spreading like…a snow shower?

You can’t miss these! Blue-eyed Mary takes over the park in April.

Due to some genetic mutations or cross-pollination, you’ll spot some not-so-blue-eyed flowers from this species.

Blue-eyed Mary variations.

Shades of pink and purple are featured alongside the common blue, and even an almost bleached-white cluster was spotted (above).

Heading down to the footbridge built by Eagle Scout Brock Shaffer, you’ll find that Hepatica is almost done flowering, save one. Near that bridge, you probably won’t see any fish, but Trout Lilly (below) has been busy putting out large, drooping yellow flowers. The leaf patterns resemble the appearance of a Pennsylvania Brook Trout, hence the name.

Trout Lilly. Only about 1% of adult plants bloom.

We have an exciting development on the identification of a plant we thought was Self-Heal (Heal-All, Cure-All). Thanks to some more information and an expert eye from our senior biologist, Dianne Walters, we can now identify this early bloomer as Purple Deadnettle (below). Please accept this new identification and apply it to earlier posts about Self-Heal.


Purple Deadnettle was featured as Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s “Weed of the Month” last spring. It is a member of the mint family, but its uses in cuisine are limited. Young leaves can be used in a simple salad. Other “nettles” tend to have a sting, or cause irritation, but this plant’s sting is “dead.”

 

Dandelion (left) and Coltsfoot (right).

According to BBC’s Nature and Wildlife experts, dandelions weren’t always a target for lawn care enthusiasts. In fact, dandelions were “cultivated with care and eaten by the wealthy in sandwiches and salads” in Victorian times. Coltsfoot has a similar look, but has a much taller, drooping stem, while dandelions keep close to the ground. You’ll see both of these near the parking lot.

Purple, Yellow, and Canadian White Violet.

The park’s three varieties of violet can be seen scattered throughout the trails. Keep an eye out for only very few Canadian White Violets, which separate themselves from the common White Violet with their purple underside. Take a look for that hint of purple in the photo above.

Cutleaf Toothwort (top) and Narrow-leaved Spring Beauty (bottom).

The two flowers pictured above are familiar faces all over the park, and can be found blooming throughout April. Not only do they make themselves at home in Braddock’s Trail, they are native to much of the United States and Canada. Cutleaf Toothwort, identifiable by its jagged leaves, claims the East Coast all the way to the Midwest, while Spring Beauty, with its radiant pink “veins” shows up in all states save Nevada, Florida, and Louisiana.

We’ll leave you with some shots of Virginia Bluebell (above), which you’ll find only on the narrow footpath past the old stone water fountain. Not pictured in this post, but seen on the walk were Persian Speedwell, Kidney-leaf Buttercup, White and Red Trillium, and Pennsylvania Bittercress.

Please join us for a walk this Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 10:30. You’ll see most of the wildflowers featured here and even more. Thanks to everyone for your time, attention, and company on our last walk!

Mid April Update 2015

April 18, 2015

April showers have brought many flowers to Braddock’s Trail. We spotted a few “newcomers” blooming throughout the area with several species of wildflowers still blooming even weeks later.

Ground Ivy. Photo by Chris Federinko.

You might find Ground Ivy (above) in your own back yard. Most homeowners may cringe at the mention of this “invasive” plant. It spreads rapidly and grows in many areas across the country. If you’re a horse owner, be sure to avoid this flower, as it can be toxic to them.

Photo Apr 20, 6 19 41 PM
Hepatica (left) and Wild Ginger (right). Photos by Dr. Jack Boylan.

The rare but beautiful Hepatica (above) has now finished flowering. You’ll have to visit next year to see this one in person, but check out the Wildflower Gallery to see the park’s blueish and white varieties. You may also find it in shades of pink. You can find the three-lobed leaves around the newly built footbridge.

Pictured next to the Hepatica is another rare plant in the park, and you’ll have to ask one of our wildflower guides for its “secret” locations. Wild Ginger will soon form a reddish brown flower, which is not the most spectacular blossom at Braddock’s Trail, but the plant does attract butterflies, and the stock can be used as a substitute for ginger when cooked with sugar.

Photo Apr 20, 6 22 32 PM
Squirrel Corn (top) and Blue-Eyed Mary (bottom). Photos by Dr. Jack Boylan.

Two wildflowers that are becoming increasingly visible during this time of year are pictured above. The first, Squirrel Corn, may look much like Dutchman’s Breeches. The fern-like leaves of both plants make it difficult to tell them apart when not blooming. The flowers, though both have the same off-white coloring, show some differences. Dutchman’s Breeches blooms with a yellow band around the bottom and may look tooth-like. Squirrel Corn, as you can see from the photo, has a heart-shaped appearance.

Soon the park will be covered with Blue-Eyed Mary, which come in many different shades of blue and pink. The one pictured above is one of the first of the season, and these wildflowers will blossom well into May. If you visit the park at the right time, you’ll view a sea of blue and white created by Blue-Eyed Mary. Variations of this flower were documented by Lewis and Clark on their journey west to the Pacific.

Photo Apr 18, 10 27 17 AM
Red Trillium or “Wake-robin”. Photo by Dr. Jack Boylan.

The largest and most visible flowers at the park are Trillium, and Braddock’s Trail has two color varieties: white and red. You’ll find these blooming throughout the park starting in mid April, specifically in the valley near the waterfall. Naming the plant “Trillium” should come as no surprise to you. The prefix “tri” means “three”. Trillium grows with three distinct leaves and three petals on the flower. Ohio named Trillium their official state flower in 1986.

Our next wildflower walk is this Saturday, April 25, at 10:00A.M. See you there!