May Hikes

May was far nicer than June this year and unfortunately I'm just now getting around to posting all the great photos I took on those hikes.  This post has both flora and fauna; including Wild Geranium (a personal favorite), Umbrella Magnolia (a new one to me), and a not so inconspicuous Eastern Chipmunk (dumb ass).

Common White Violet (Viola striata) - 
The White Violets and even some of the blue ones are still hanging around, while the yellows are all but gone.  Violets are very plentiful in our area and I believe the leaves are edible.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) - 
Virginia Bluebells are one of the flowers that I see every year, but they're always in the same spot, so they're not very abundant in the Little Sewickley Creek valley.  Their blossoms are "nodding" which makes them difficult to photograph, but they are quite beautiful.  Heavy rains the night before had beaten up this specimen pretty good, but I was still able to get a few good pictures.

Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) - 
Woodland Stonecrop is a very small and easily misssed wildflower that lives among the detritus of the forest floor.  Its small flowers are more like small white spears than blossoms, but they are definitely unique.  Interestingly, I've seen a lot of Woodland Stonecrop this year, more so than previous years by far.

May Apple (Podophyllum peltatum) - 
May Apple's inconspicuous blossoms are hidden below the umbrella-like leaves of the plant so one must actively look for them to spot them.  Since they are so low to the ground, they aren't easy to photograph either.

White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) - 
This year seemed like an off year for Trillium, in our area especially.  I saw quite a few whites but no Purple Trillium (Trillium erectum) at all.  Trillium blossoms don't typically last very long, but when they are blooming they can blanket entire hillsides.

Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera) - 
Star Chickween has small white blossoms that have tiny "satellites" radiating around the periphery.  The plants are not especially easy to spot, but they are fairly abundant.

Squaw Corn (Conopholis americana) - 
Squaw Corn is a particularly interesting wildflower.  It is one of a few plants that have no chlorophyll and doesn't photosynthesize its food, rather it draws all its nutrients from its host, typically oak roots that it attaches to. 

Long Spur Violet (Viola rostrata) -
Long Spur Violet are especially beautiful, the blusish-white blossoms are different than any other of the violets in our area.  Interestingly, I typically find Long Spur Violets in upland settings and not along the floodplain where the other violets thrive.

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) - 
I seem to photograph Wild Geraniums on rainy days because I've noticed quite a few times that insects will wait out storms in its tiny blossoms.  Wild Geranium is definitely one of my favorite wildflowers, its purple blossoms are quite striking.

Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) - 
I've struggled to identify this Umbrella Magnolia tree for a few years now.  The closest I came was "Giant Leaf Hickory," but I knew that was not correct based on its flowers.  And its flowers, which are incredibly large just as its leaves, did end up being the key to identifying it.  This Umbrella Magnolia, and a few others, are located along Gas Well path up in the park.

Small Flower Forget Me Nots (Myosotis laxa) - 
I believe I read that Thoreau knew Small Flower Forget Me Nots as Mouse Ear Forget Me Nots.  There are similar, non native Forget Me Nots in our area, but given how small these are, I'm fairly certain about my identification.

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamia striatus) - 
I first saw this Eastern Chipmunk a good distance off but I think that it thought that if it didn't move, I wouldn't see it.  It wasn't a bad plan since it did blend with the top of the fallen branch that it was sitting on, and I was able to get really close for this photo.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus) - 
There were eight or nine Swallowtails grouped together on the stream bank when I first spotted them, but a few flew away as I got closer.  It looked as though they were feeding on something, but I didn't really see anything in particular.  The  blues, oranges, and yellows on their wings are incredibly bright and deeply hued.

Philadelphia Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus) - 
Phildelphis, or Common, Fleabane, is pretty abundant in our area and will be around for a couple more months preferring the bright meadows and clearings instead of the dark forest. The flowers range from off white to purplish pink and photograph pretty well for having such delicate and fine petals.

More Pictures:

Common White Violet (Viola striata)

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Common Blue Violets (Viola papilionacea)

Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

Swamp Buttercup (Ranunculus septentrionalis)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus)