Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lilliputian Lovelies

Over the weekend, I attended a hike in Adams County, Ohio with the Midwest Native Plant Society. We were on a quest for some of the rare early blooming flowers of spring.

The flowers we were seeking always put me in a state of complete awe. Each year I have to remind myself just how small they are. These members of the mustard family are extremely tiny. Most reach a towering height of one to two inches tall! To view these flowers, one must be willing to get down on their hands and knees. But once there, the viewer is definitely rewarded for the effort. Each one is a delicate, miniature work of art. (All photos courtesy of John Howard).

Beautiful snow white blossoms that are smaller than my pinky nail. This flower is Michaux's Leavenworthia,  Leavenworthia uniflora. The diminutive flower with the huge, unusual title is named after two botanists, Andre' Michaux and Melines Conkling Leavenworth.

Another tiny masterpiece, Carolina Whitlow-grass, Draba reptans. The group of basal leaves, at the bottom of the plant, are smaller in diameter than a dime and densely hairy, reminding me of a teeny cactus. For more photos, check out the Ohio Flora blog.

Similar to the Draba reptans, this tiny wonder is just starting to bloom. We were a bit too early. This is Draba cuneifolia, Wedge-leaved Whitlow-grass. The leaves have tiny notches that Draba reptans lacks.

And finally, a very rare mustard called Little Whitlow-grass, Draba brachycarpa. We were crawling around on the ground in a cemetery looking for this one. A passerby would have wondered what in the world we were doing. :) I love the clump of flowers at the top of the stem, gathered like a miniature bouquet. Since the sandy deposits that it prefers are disappearing, this may be one of the only viable populations in the state of Ohio. There are only a few areas where it is found in Indiana, as well.
Such an enjoyable day in the field, enjoying nature on a microscopic level. It show that there are so many wonderful things out there if one just takes the time to look. If you enjoy looking at photos of these and other spring wonders, check out the blogs of others who were on the trip.
All photos on this post courtesy of John Howard.



Kelly said...

I had tons of fun hunting with the group this weekend, and I learned so much too! So glad I got to meet you.

Janet Creamer said...

Thanks, Kelly! Nice meeting you too. It was a great day out. And thanks again for the ZAND zinc lozenges. I feel 100% better!

Weedpicker Cheryl said...

Nice post Janet- and excellent John Howard photos.

Glad to hear you are feeling better!

Janet Creamer said...

Thanks, Cheryl. Nice to get out with you this past weekend. Looking forward to Flora-quest!