Spring woodland

Spring woodland wildflowers are fleeting. They decorate the sunny forest floor before the trees leaf out and shade them for the summer. Two weeks ago the blood root bloomed, last week the trout lilies stole the show.

Bloodroot Family Portrait

This week, the ground here at Johnson’s Mound forest preserve is carpeted in the snowdrops of false rue anemone accented by red trillium the umbrella-like leaves of mayapple.

False Rue Anemone and Mayapple on Johnson’s Mound

In a preserve known for its spring beauty, we’ve timed our field trip here perfectly for the flower display. The topic of the naturalist-led hike is woodlands and they said they try to keep it from becoming a wildflower walk. But look at it! It’s a wildflower walk.

Both blue cohosh and the hairy violet are uncommon in Illinois. Their presence at this preserve is an indication of the health of the native ecosystem. The blue cohosh is named for the blue berry-like fruit that will appear later in the season.

I love the bellwort for its droopy elegance. Its been an prolific year for the woodland phlox, that stands tall, like the bluebells, above the forest floor.

There was, as promised, naturalist interpretation beyond the flowers. Our experts, Pam Otto and Valerie Blaine from the Kane County Certified Naturalist program, flipped rocks and dug in decaying wood to find examples of the little guys. This toad is a male, identifiable by the callouses on the bottoms of his front feet. The females feet are smooth. You’d have to gently and adeptly pick one up to identify their sex. But you an admire them as the sit on the ground in their red, brown, amber and black textured skin.

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