April 26th. (Continued from…) When I visited Fort Yargo State Park in mid-February, there were few signs of Spring. The only wildflower plants that were obvious were the leaves of Cranefly Orchids (Tipularia discolor) that I found in many places.
The route… I’ve described it here, here, here, and here. This walk doesn’t have the variety of wildflowers as my other walk from the Group A Shelter to the Old Fort but it does have some gems. On a previous walk on April 12th, the leaves of the Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) Orchids were starting to bloom and was surprised to find several Smallflower Pawpaw (Asimina parviflora).
From the dam, I set off down the trail to check on the Pink Lady’s Slipper orchids that had started to bloom. My first intended stop was to check on the Woolsower galls that I’d photographed the previous week.
Before I got too far down the trail, I found some intriguing galls on a small oak tree.
The oak tree, with fresh leaves…
There were two galls, that I haven’t been able to identify yet, hanging below the stems. On another oak tree of the same species further back from the trail, I found…
a smaller gall that looked more like a flower bud because it was upright rather than hanging below the branch.
Nearby, on what might be a Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica), I found…
many spherical, fresh (this year) green galls that are probably Oak Apple Galls
A closer view. Most had small holes in them.
The previously red spots on the larger (top) or the two Woolsower galls had turned brown and the smaller (bottom) of the two galls had started to dry up. They would be harder to find now that their colors didn’t contrast so well with the green leaves.
On down the trail I found…
another fallen tree limb with a lichen with fruiting bodies. I have a good collection of lichen photos now; I’m going to have to try and identify them.
On my way through the open deciduous woods, I found another…
Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) plant in bloom.
Beyond the small footbridge…
the Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum) bushes were still blooming.
And then, to the Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchid patch.
A couple bloom right beside the trail but I suspect that, sadly, most people who walk this trail don’t even notice them.
The patch extends up the slope above the trail. There are 15 to 20 plants in the patch and seven were blooming.
I was sitting on the ground, with one leg on either side of one of an orchid, to photograph it. I was so focused on the Pink Lady Slipper that I didn’t notice
another tiny, by comparison, orchid growing in front of the larger orchid – just off the tip of the lower Pink Lady’s Slipper leaf in this photo.
It’s a Green Adder’s-mouth Orchid (Malaxis unifolia). I knew there were Green Adder’s-mouths along this trail but I couldn’t remember where they were. I had photographed them in early July several years ago when the flowers were all but withered. I knew I had to keep an eye open for them but didn’t expect to see them yet.
As I was getting up, I spotted yet another orchid. Since I had found them so early, I was going to be able to watch the flowers open.
I made my way up ‘The Hill’ from the north and…
down the other side and back to the parking lot.
In the shade, near the end of the trail, I found a hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) in bloom. Some final photographs before leaving the trail.