May 15, 2013

Wild Hyacinths and More

What a spring it has been! It started slowly but the flowers and birds have been spectacular. We have been out and about a lot, and I have so much I'd like to blog about! Life has intervened in a big way, however, and I have definitely fallen behind. I'll try to catch up if I can!

Last weekend we headed up to Lake Erie to take part in what has become quite a spring pilgrimage for literally thousands of people: the Biggest Week in American Birding, which celebrates the spring bird migration. Although it was cold, windy and crowded, we had a great time. Here are just a few of the gorgeous warblers that were nearly at eye level at Magee Marsh:

On the way home we had a much quieter nature experience which was just as spectacular as the warblers were. We stopped at Stratford Woods State Nature Preserve, just south of Delaware, Ohio. Owned and operated by the Stratford Ecological Center, the preserve features loop trails through lush woodlands which host an excellent spring wildflower display. We were quite fortunate to visit at the peak of the preserve's most spectacular wildflower, the Wild Hyacinth. Growing in moist, low areas of the preserve were acres of these lovely spikes, which are a delicate blue:

A couple of closer looks reveal details of the flower structures:

Other flowers were also at their peak. One of these, the Green Dragon, is definitely one of the strangest I've ever encountered. In fact, I had never even heard of it until a few years ago, despite 40 years of interest in wildflowers. It is pretty difficult to photograph, but here it is in all its weirdness:

Here is a closeup of the flower, with its odd yellow "lure" jutting out, presumably to attract a pollinator:

The flower is pretty inconspicuous, but the leaves are distinctive and spotting the leaves is about the only way I have ever found it. Preferred habitats include woodlands near springs and vernal pools, and it is indicative of undisturbed forest. It often occurs near its close relative, the Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and in fact we found a Jack just down the trail:

Stratford had many other flowers in bloom; one of my favorites, which is quite common, is the Wild Geranium:

Our hike at Stratford was a great way to end a very special weekend!


  1. So beautiful -- thank you. Did you smell the hyacinth? I love the smell of the ones in my garden.

    1. They didn't smell! I think they are only distantly related to the horticultural hyacinth.