Monday, April 21, 2014

EARTH DAY 2014: Round-lobed Hepatica Confirms Spring!

Round-lobed hepatica (Hepatica americana)  Photos by Jonathan Schechter 4/19/2014

The calendar and worm-slurping robins are  false prophets of spring. At the dawn of Earth Day 2014 snow still carpets large swaths of the northwoods of Michigan and frost remains deep in the earth.  But  in 'my' semi-wilds of Oakland County the season of  this never ending winter has come to an abrupt end.  Less than 72 hours before Earth Day I hiked across the glacially sculpted hills of Holly State Recreation Area, a 7,817 acre wildland managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in search of a particular   wildflower. The target of my of foray was the spring beauty ( Claytonia virginica), a delicate spring ephemeral wildflower also known as "fairy spud" for its tiny and tasty roots.  None were to be found, not yet. But proof  spring has finally taken root was confirmed in the emergence of round-lobed hepatica (Hepatica americana), one the earliest of our ephemeral wildflowers. These beauties were bathed in dabbled sunlight next to a glacial erratic that has graced a glacial moraine for some 11,000 years. Sunlight, soil moisture and nutrients are key factors in the early emergence of  hepatica and they fell perfectly into place for this clump of wild natural beauty at her finest.  However before the forest floor is shaded by a canopy of leafy deciduous trees, the ephemeral's blossoms will be gone; but the season of spring remains and the cycles of nature continue.

                      A  hill top clump of hepatica above a small glacial erratic.  J.S.S. photo


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