On behalf of the Clayton County Conservation Board and animals at the Osborne Nature Center, we welcome you to our new innovative blog. On this site you can find information regarding the facilities of Osborne and a Google Calendar showing the public events being held here. Videos and slideshows are also located on the bottom of the page. Subscribe to our blog or check back often to view new happenings at Osborne and within Clayton County Conservation. We hope you find this blog to be enjoyable and informative-Remember to play outside.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Wildflowers

Smiles are all around, new sounds float in the air; but did you notice the forest floor no longer is bare?

To many, Iowa's spring woodland wildflowers are the ultimate treasure of early spring.  Many of these woodland wildflowers are called "spring ephemerals".  Ephemeral flowers are the early risers of the forest; they flower and fruit within one or two months.  Typically, they can only be seen above ground from April through the end of May.  Ephemerals bloom early when there are no leaves on the trees; taking full advantage of the nourishing sunlight and high soil moisture.  Due to the variance in early spring weather, ephmerals have developed many adaptations. The Bloodroot, a common spring ephemeral; has leaves around the main stem to trap warm air. Pasque Flower and Hepatica have tiny hairs to keep the plant warm. 

Not only are Spring Ephemerals pretty to look at, they help sustain many other forms of life. Bees and other insects pollinate Spring Ephemerals, hummingbirds pollinate Columbine. The seeds of many Spring Ephemerals are transported by ants in a process called "myrmecochory."  The fleshy organ of the seeds, attracts ants who then bring them to their nests where they eat the seed and discard the remains. This helps wildflowers by dispersearing the seeds to many places and protecting them until germination.

Enough of the talking; go take a walk in the woods and see what wildflowers you can discover-remember Spring Ephemerals can be "Here today, Gone tommorrw"

HEPATICA: Notice the "hairs"

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