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March 9, 2012 Wildflowers on Indian Creek

posted Mar 10, 2012, 7:56 AM by Katherine Schlosser   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 10:05 AM by Administrator Friends of Sauratown Mtns ]

The Indian Creek Trail at Hanging Rock State Park is always interesting to walk.  The first mile or so is relatively level and follows Indian Creek, which is good habitat for a number of interesting plants.  This time of year, the trail is littered with trout lilies (Erythronium americanum).  They are blooming now, but in another week should be in full bloom.  The plants are named for the mottled appearance of their leaves, which look to some like trout swimming through the water.  The plants are spread by seed, which are carried by ants who eat the eliosomes (sweet fleshy appendage on each seed).  The ants pick up the seed to carry them back to their nest, but often can't resist consuming the eliosome, which is the only part they eat.  Once the eliosomes is eaten, the ants drop the seed, which easily germinates in rich, moist soil.

Also to be seen along the Trail now:

Spring beauties, Claytonia virginica

Yellow corydalis, Corydalis flavula

Downy rattlesnake plantain, Goodyera pubescens

Wild ginger, Hexastylis spp. - maybe virginica
not fully open

Yellowroot, Xanthorrhiza simplicissima
Just beginning to open

Partridgeberry, Mitchella repens
Growing in the rock face. Not in bloom,
but what an incredible little spot for it!

Photo credits:  Katherine Schlosser