Looking for Spring on the trail

In April I run the Kent Trails often to prepare for the 5th 3rd River Bank 25K run in May. One of the benefits of this training (aside from cardiovascular benefit) is the emergence of wildflowers along the trail. Aside from the trilliums or Mayapple or Jack in the Pulpit, I’m always excited to see Bloodroot and Trout Lily pop through the brown leaf litter and come into bloom.

I always look forward to Bloodroot emerging from the ground in April. My good friend Thomas Jefferson would call them “Puckoon” flowers. He would bemoan the fact they would bloom around April 6 and all the blooms would have fallen by April 13 (his birthday). In spring if you dig up the roots and snap them they ooze red sap. The ephemeral blooms are always a sign to me spring has arrived. As another good friend Allan Armitage would say “drifts of these clean white flowers reaffirms one’s faith in this crazy world.” I always look for Bloodroot as a sign spring is here to stay. Here are some of my photos of Bloodroot (Click on images to enlarge)

Another favorite is Trout Lily. It’s also known as dog toothed violet. They say the trout lily is edible. No it doesn’t taste like fish, the leaves have a very mild flavor and the flowers have a slight sweetness due to their nectar. The corms are edible as well and have a cucumber-like taste. Most who eat them do so for the underground corm. I wouldn’t recommend eating them. Leave the wildflowers alone for others to enjoy. They’re important early sources of food for pollinating insects like bees, butterflies, And I would guess if you’re not used to foraging you might get a tummy ache by gorging on them. Trout lily leaves are a mottled, dark olive green to brown, which some describe as looking similar to the markings of brown or brook trout. Large colonies of these flowers develop over long periods of time, favoring moist, rich soils along forest bottomlands. (Click on images to enlarge)

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