WILD FLOWERS WORTH KNOWING
In the early spring and summer we may see flowers of many varieties as we walk through the woods and hills along the river. In this essay I intend to acquaint you with some of these flowers. I have spent many Sundays in the quiet woods gathering a few flowers of each variety and listening to the birds.
The Skunk Cabbage is the earliest flower seen in this neighborhood. It is found in the marshes and wet shores of creeks. It is practically impossible to transplant. The flower spathes show a great diversity of coloring according to their age, ranging from a pale green, sparingly streaked with brown, to an almost solid purple. The flowers are small, perfect, and closely crowded on the thick fleshy spadix, partly concealed by the large, thick, purple and green stained hood. The leaves appear after the flower has wilted or commenced to do so. They are bright green, large, cabbage-like and stongly veined.
Trailing Arbutus is the earliest flower found in the woods. It grows on the ground, under low bushes where it is protected from the winter storms. Though the stems and leaves are tough, the plant is very easily killed by exposure in the winter. The flowers grow in clusters at the end of the stems are pinkish in color. Many people when picking the flowers pull the plant to pieces. A few years ago it was hard to find around here and people did not pull it so much; left alone, it multiplied rapidly till now it is more
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plentiful through the woods. It blooms about the ninth of March on the south hills and is found until late in May on the north hills. It is rather difficult to transplant into a place as desired. It takes good soil and protection in winter weather.
An early plant on the open hillside is the Bluets. They are quite plentiful and make the open hills look white from early in April till well into the summer. Their flowers have small, bluish purple petals and are supported by very slender little stems with a few small leaves at the base of the stems. A clump of the plants if taken up, roots and all, will keep in the house for a long time and make a beautiful decoration. It is easy to transplant also. This flower is sometimes called the Quakerlady.
The Wind flower or Wood Anemone has a very slender stem form four to eight inches high. The leaves radiate from a point two-thirds of the way up, each on a long stem and divided into three to five toothed, oval leaves. The solitary flower rises on a slender stem from the junction of the leaves. It has four to seven sepals, most often five; white inside and purplish white outside. These flowers are found in the spring throughout the woods and they may be moved if the proper conditions are to be had.
The Hepatica is another of the early spring flowers and is found in the damp woods. Its stem is covered with fuzzy hairs; the three-lobed smooth-edged leaves are rather
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thick and coarse, lasting throughout the winter but turning a reddish color. A single flower appears at the end of each long fuzzy scape in the spring when the new leaves come out. When picked the flowers soon fade even if they are quickly put in water.
The Spring Beauty although very delicate in appearance is among one of the earliest flowering plants. The stem is weak and often very crooked; two linear-lanceolate leaves clasp it oppositely about halfway up. the open flower is less than once inch across, having give purplish petals. The stems have from two to twenty some flowers. These plants are plentiful in this locality but are very hard to transplant because the root is so deep in the ground.
Closely following on the heels of the beautiful Hepatica we find the Bloodroot unfurling its leaves and expanding its flowers in rich, rocky, open woodlands. The flowers are very delicate, the petals stay but two or three days at the most and a breath of wind may blow them off sooner. After the flower is gone, the leaf develops rapidly and becomes very large and imposing with many divisions and lobes. The root is reddish and is filled with a bloodlike juice. These plants may be moved and planted anywhere in the shade with great ease.
The Duchman's Breeches is found on rich, shady, hillsides. The flower stalk proceeds from the root, attaining the height of from five to nine inches and bears a loose
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raceme of four to eight whitish yellow flowers. The leaves are on long petioles from the rootstalk. They are pale sage-green in color, three-parted and finely slashed. They may be transplanted if the soil is suitable to its habits.
One of the most plentiful flowers of the wooded river banks is the Dog-tooth Violet. The single six-parted flower grows at the top of a scape from five to ten inches high. Two elliptical-lanceolate leaves clasp the scape at its base; they are pale green mottled with purple. These plants are hard to transplant not because they will not grow but because the bulb is very deep in the silt deposited by the river and cannot be dug up easily. They are in flower during April and May.
The Jack-in-the-Pulpit is the most common and best known representative of its genus. It is found in moist woods and the flower grows on a spadix, which is covered over by the spathe. The covering of the flower is green striped with brown. Usually two thrice-compounded leaves spread shelteringly on long stems over the flower. In the fall, the cluster of red seads remains long after the leaves are dead. These plants will grow very satisfactorily when transplanted.
The Wild Columbine is more scarce than most of our wild flowers. It is graceful in form and has a beautiful flower. The stem is very slender, wiry and quite branching and attains the height of one to two feet. There is a