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Plants are Poppin’!

Posted on May 12, 2014

With the recent warmer weather, a number of different species have made it apparent that spring is here for good. The neotropical migrants have been moving through the area while a number of woody and herbaceous plants are finally beginning to flower and leaf out.  The past couple of days we have taken advantage of the nice weather and gotten out to begin surveying research sites with SUNY JCC interns, and surveying Atlas sites for its digital revision. Below are a few plants that we have seen popping out in our survey sites, can you tell what they are?

T. undulatum1


Let’s see if you got them all. The first spring flower is a Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum). Trilliums are quite interesting in the fact that they typically do not flower their first few years of growth. They often allocate energy to their roots, stem and leaves before they have enough energy to develop their showy, three petaled flower. Walking through the woods, you may sometimes find a trillium that has only one leaf; but, that’s not because the other two have fallen off rather the trillium is still early in its development and hasn’t grown the other two yet. If you find trilliums in Chautauqua County’s rich deciduous forests, admire them where they grow. Picking a trillium could damage the root system, preventing it from growing back.

The second flower is a Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum). These are an early ephemeral flower that grows in colonies across forest floors, and can be easily recognized by their brown/green mottled leaves and bright yellow flowers. These flowers are edible but only in small quantities, so they may make a light snack while you’re out on a hike.

The last one may be a little tricky as it is not often seen and can be easily overlooked. I’ll give you a hint, there are two species that may be found in this area. One is relatively big, while the other is dwarf sized in comparison. Any guess to what it may be? The third flower is Dwarf Ginseng (Panax triflorus). This plant is well known for its characteristic roots, which look somewhat like a running man, and use for medicinal purposes.

These are just a few of the beautiful and ecologically important species we have found so far this spring. While we continue our survey work, we will note all that we can so that we may gain a better understanding of what special species are here and share their beauty and importance. We hope you find lots of interesting plants, birds, amphibians and so on in your adventures through this area and as always we welcome to hear about the exciting things that are seen by others.

Elyse Henshaw
Conservation Technician