Trout Lily

9 04 2009

Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) are a North American native perennial and can be found growing in damp, open woodlands. A member of the Lily family, this edible and medicinal plant is cultivated by seed or transplanting of the corm or bulb in fall. (From seed to bloom take up four to seven years and only plants that have two leaves will flower—and then they may not bloom every year! Now that would require more patience than I think possess!)

Tiny one inch flowers bloom from March to May and grow best in a deciduous woodland environment with filtered light in the spring. It is said to get its name from the speckled leaves, which mimic the speckled skin of a trout.

According to Stanwyn G. Shetler, Curator of Botany Emeritus at the National Musem of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution:

“the species spreads not only by seeds but also by offshoot runners from their corms, forming extensive clonal colonies, carpeting the forest. In one study the colonies were found to average nearly 140 years in age and were as old as 1300 years.”

You can read Shetler’s article, first published in the Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society, at this link here.

Learn more about Trout Lilies in this article by Sarah Coulber for the Canadian Wildlife Federation at this link here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Bull Run Bluebells

9 04 2009

For many years I’ve been meaning to go see the Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) en masse at Bull Run Regional Park in Manassas about this time of the year. I can now cross that excursion off my list! If you live in Northern Virginia (or thereabouts), there’s an annual Bull Run Bluebell Walk at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, April 12.

As I mentioned in my earlier posting here, I wanted to avoid the crowds and certainly did. We encountered less than a dozen hikers and photographers on our hike down the Bluebell Trail.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of plants in bloom, though, and a bit hard to work around the plethora of trees, trunks, and fallen branches to get that stellar shot. Many of the landscape-with-Bluebell shots I got were more “record” shots than stellar. Michael found a plastic bag in the car (the ground was still quite damp), and we both hunkered down on the ground to get up close and personal with a few perfect specimens. Our positioning also allowed us to discover other plants in bloom: Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) and Cutleaf Toothwarts (Dentaria laciniata, a member of the Mustard family, Brassicaceae). From a distance, Cutleaf Toothworts, whose beauty belies their nefarious-sounding name, look very similar to the ‘Spring Beauty’ wildflowers.

We also took along the Interfit 5 in 1 collapsible reflector (translucent portion only) to block the mid-day sun and get more saturated color. I’ve used the reflector in the studio and for outdoor portraits, but since I usually follow the rule of “shoot flowers in early a.m. or late p.m.,” I’ve never used it for this purpose. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before—I can now shoot flowers even in the worst light of day for flower photography—that mid-day sun!

While researching where best to photograph fields of Bluebells, I stumbled upon Chris Kayler’s posting about them here. Take a look at his Nature Photography Gallery. Chris, a student at Northern Virginia Community College, specializes in nature and wildlife photography, and lives in Manassas. Spectacular work, Chris!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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