Sunrise on the Maumee

Sunrise on the Maumee

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Trillium grandiflorum

     Several years ago a friends of mine discovered that the empty lot across the street from their house was going to be turned into a tennis court.  It took some time and we were able to "rescue" many wildflowers each year for several years.  I can't remember how many trillium I transplanted (around 3), but I have had at least nine clumps blooming for the last 2 years.
     Each year someone (deer? rabbit?) eat several of the flowers.  The thought had crossed my mind to put out moth balls to ward them off, until I read this in The American Woodland Garden by Rick Darke:
"Each tiny seed has an edible lipid-rich appendage called an elaiosome, there only for attracting ants.  Ants respond by carrying seeds to their nests, where larvae consume the elaiosomes, leaving the embryos in the seeds undamaged.  The seeds are left to germinate within the ant nest or after being discarded to waste piles."  I don't want to discourage the ants, so maybe I'd better leave well enough alone. 
     The shady bed housing these trillium contains a lot of myrtle (which you can see in the background of the photo).  I have heard that myrtle will smother wildflowers, but at least two of the clumps are entirely covered by the myrtle.  I also have wood poppy and even native ginger popping up through the myrtle.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Monclova Sand Pits

     We monitored today at the Monclova Sand Pits.  This is an area in the Oak Openings Metropark that is just east of Wilkins Road and just north of the NORTA bike trail. There are several "ponds" in amongst the sand ridges.  
     Today I learned the story behind the topography from one of the new volunteers who had been a former park ranger.  The bike trail used to be a railroad line.  During World War 2 the sand here was mined (leaving the pits which then became ponds because of the high water table), shipped on the railway, and used to sandblast mortar shells.  Several side rails went into the sand pits and a remnant railway tie can be seen in the lower left of the photo.

The lupine were beginning to bloom - several weeks earlier than usual.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Red Admiral

     The Red Admiral is a fairly common butterfly in Ohio, but I've never seen as many at one time as I did yesterday.  There were dozens nectaring on our Redbud trees.  My field guides say the species occasionally experiences tremendous population outbreaks.  It is also one of the few migrating species of butterfly.  One of my favorite blogs - Blue jay Barrens - mentioned seeing a similar number of Red Admirals nectaring on his Red bud trees in southern Ohio several weeks ago.  Perhaps the mild winter contributed to this population spike.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


     It was a little chilly Friday morning when I came across this native wildflower while monitoring in Oak Openings.  It's formal name is Antennaria neglecta, but the common name is Field Pussytoes.  As the day warms the stems perk up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monitoring Season Begins

     Last week we started our plant monitoring season at Oak Openings.  This year we are going to concentrate on areas that were most affected by the 2010 tornado.  The photo above shows one such area.  Many of the fallen trees were removed and the area was burned.  Fire suppression in the past had resulted in a heavily forested landscape.  This land should now return to being an Oak Savannah.

     Although Wild lupine is potentially threatened in the state, it is abundant in the Metroparks, so we don't usually include it in our monitoring.  However, because it is an indicator of a healthy Oak Savannah, we will track it's numbers in these areas.  It was certainly easy to spot, growing up from the ashes.

     Another abundant plant in this area are blueberries.  One of the benefits of monitoring in summer is eating these berries!