We recently stayed with Linda and Mike at River View Hotel in Calico Rock, Arkansas. Knowing our love of nature, they kindly volunteered to guide us along a woodland nature trail so we could see spring ephemerals in their native habitat.
Starting off beside a meadow of wildflowers richly covered in black swallowtail butterflies, the path traced up along a stream through several natural habitats, giving us just a taste of the riches of the 1.2 million acre Ozark-St Francis National Forests.
One highlight was this rocky crag where a shower curtain of water steadily dripped down through wild dodecatheons (shooting stars), aqueligias and ferns, creating the gentlest of waterfalls.
As I’ve always had a passion for shade plants, seeing them in the wild was a massive treat. Many, like these hepaticas, had to be identified by their leaves or seed pods, leaving our imaginations to supply whatever flower colour we fancied.
The way the light fell on this yellow trillium was so attractive that I didn’t realise it was a quadrillium until reviewing the picture later (i.e. that it had four leaves instead of the usual three).
The path also took us past recently faded white trilliums, which Mike explained were rarely found growing wild in the area. A careful look at the green carpet covering the woodland floor revealed violets, podophyllum (May apples),maidenhair ferns and Virginia creeper mingling with poison ivy: a gentle reminder not to stray from the path.
I marvelled at how well the plants co-existed without smothering each other out. Perhaps later in the year, there will be more of a tangle!
The feathery foliage of yellow poppies was quite common, though most of the flowers had turned into seed pods, making a nice contrast with the finger-like fronds of the maidenhead ferns. Demure arisaema with green and white striped flowers were harder to spot. I did get a few pictures but nothing good enough to share.
To conclude the walk, our hosts treated to a few verses of a folk song warning of the need to check each other for ticks (a wise precaution), then swept us off to a catfish restaurant so we could experience more local flavor. Thanks again, Linda and Mike!
During May, Jude of The Earth Laughs in Flowers is inviting us to share pictures of native wild flowers. Please visit her site to take a look at the other submissions.