Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quadrillium - and an Abundance of White

 Yesterday I joined a group of nature enthusiasts for a drive to Goll Woods, a patch of "virgin forest" in northern Ohio.

Goll Woods is a rare treasure - a large plot of land that was purchased in the days when the midwest was being settled, and yet the owner, Mr. Goll, chose not to develop this parcel.  It remains one of the few original patches of Ohio forest left in existence. 

Goll Woods is lowland forest, along the Tiffen River, which this day was still flooding some of the trails.  As such, many of the plants here like to have their feet wet. One of the trees that's quite famous here is the burr oak, which grows to significant proportions (you'll see one shortly).  Apparently one blew over recently and the rings, when counted, aged the tree to over 500 years!

Goll Woods is noted on the internet and in wildflower circles as THE place to go for wildflowers.  It was, unfortunately, a rather cool and overcast day, so many of the flowers were closed, but this stretch of the Toadshade Trail was just carpeted with white trillium!

And nestled among the hundreds of tri-petaled flowers,

I found this four-petaled one!  Would that make it a Quadrillium?

Here is a tally of some of the other flowers we found this day:

 Dwarf Ginseng

Ohio Buckeye (a tree)

Toadshade (a new flower for me) - one of the trilliums


(and lots of Jacks just starting to unfold)

Early Buttercup (very soft and fuzzy stem)

Large-flowered Bellwort

A white trout lily!

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Dutchman's Breeches (we also saw Squirrel Corn)

Miterwort (poor photo - sorry)

Nodding Trillium
Update:  we have some debate among members of the group as to which trillium this actually is.  
Some say nodding (T. cernuum), while others say drooping (T. flexipes).  The way to tell these two very similar species apart is to look at a) the petals - on nodding trillium they are strongly recurved (they bend backwards), whereas on drooping, they remain pretty straight, and b) the anthers- on nodding they are brown and on the drooping they are cream-colored.  Of course, my photo is of the wrong angle of this particular plant to really determine either. 

This lovely garter snake was nestled in the leaves and I almost stepped on it.  What was very odd about this reptile was that it was VERY warm!  The sun wasn't shining, so this perplexed us mightily  Could it have been warming up from the decaying leaves?  I find this not too likely - decay wasn't happening that fast.  Might it have been a female, and she was warm because she was gravid?  The body was quite stout.  Garter snakes are one of the species that give birth to live young (the eggs hatch internally), so this might explain the stoutness, and maybe even the warmth.  Hm...looks like I need to do a little more research.

Here is Jean next to one of the HUGE old burr oaks.  
Admittedly, Jean is vertically challenged, but even so, this is one big tree.

Wild Blue Phlox


White Clintonia - we think.  If so, another new plant for me.

Wild ginger with an itty bitty bud just to the left.

We came across this mystery violet.  Very long spur (see below), no hair inside the throat.

 Jackie - any ideas?  You are my violet go-to person!
Update:  Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata) - thanks, Jackie!

Mayapples were everywhere, but not blooming yet.  
This patch had some lovely mottled leaves.

A few wood anemone were hiding among the spring beauties.

And Sugar Maples!  Not a tree I'd expect to see in a wetland, since they tend to prefer drier, rockier soils.  
I guess one just never knows what one will find when it comes to Mother Nature.


  1. Ah, THERE you are! I'd been wondering what you were up to. What a great woods to walk in, with those enormous oaks. Your long-spurred violet? Well, what else could it be but Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata)?

    So? Are you all settled into your new home? Garden planted?

  2. Lovely pictures, I enjoyed looking at them. Thanks for your walk in a beautiful place.

  3. Hope you and Toby are all settled nicely in your new home. The wildflower photos are great to see. I have always had a "thing" for pitcher plants ... maybe because my Dad was fascinated with them and that rubbed off? I have a quilt pattern for one that I need to make one day. We use to see them in the boggy areas of Southern New Jersey but I wonder if any of those sights are left now. Good to see that someone has seen them still in the wild.

  4. Great shots of the wildflowers, as always! I miss a lot of those once-familiar faces that aren't as common out here in eastern Ontario as at our former Toronto region home. Especially trilliums.
    Love that Burr Oak! We have one planted about 10 feet from our front door. About 15-20 years old. I think the person who planted it couldn't imagine the little sapling become a giant 500 year old tree!

  5. Thanks, Jackie. After posting this I saw your long-spurred violet on your blog, and thought to myself "Self, I bet that's what it is!"

    I'm sans internet again, so I don't have posting readily available anymore. I sneak it where I can. Hopefully things will settle down in a month or two (when school groups are over) and I will have a bit more free time. Geothermal loops are in the ground at the house, most of my boxes remain unpacked, another truckload of STUFF is arriving this weekend (including all my gardening tools). So, no garden in yet, but my spuds have arrived, and I have seeds awaiting planting. Right now I'm having adventures with wallpaper stripping!

  6. What a wonderful collection of wildflowers! Love the Quadrillium. And the snake. We have a patch of virgin forrest in Camillus, near where I grew up. There was a lot of hoopla about getting it dedicated as a protected area, and then nearly as soon as it was dedicated, a massive storm came through and blew down most of the ancient trees. Natural, I suppose, but heartbreaking nonetheless.

    Best of luck with the wallpaper stripping - it's an activity I despise, as evidenced by several rooms of ugly wallpaper still left in my house, three years after we moved in...!

  7. Great photos. When I traveled to Marion, Ohio, last fall I was not impressed with what little remains of "natural" Ohio. Much of the landscape I passed while traveling to the home of Marion dragline shovel resembled one big parking lot.