Sunday, April 12, 2015

Wildflowers of Northern Virginia's Early Springtime

I left for a short hike today to check a camera trap (with minimal results) and eventually found myself taking a detour on some trails where I knew there were some interesting wildflowers.

Yesterday before work, I did the same and found a plethora of beautiful photo opportunities.  Although I have only been using my cell phone's camera to capture these, I feel that the photos have turned out pretty well.

These flowers are mostly ephemeral, which means that they only bloom and "come out" for a very short time.  It really depends on the species, but some of them are only in bloom for a period of multiple days to a few weeks.  There are so many more than the ones that I have seen and posted on here, but those will have to wait for another day.

I hope you all enjoy looking at these.

Virginia bluebells nearing peak bloom.  Fairfax County, VA
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are just about in full bloom in various locations in Loudoun and Fairfax counties.  They seem to be a real staple for people doing wildflower walks along the Potomac River and other flowing water bodies.  In some places, they come out in the tens of thousands (or more!) and can be a breathtaking sight. 

To see them in Northern Virginia, look near sandy/muddy areas in parks or private lands (with permission, of course).

Dutchman's Breeches.  Fairfax County, Virginia

Dutchman's Breeches  (Dicentra cuccularia) are some of the most interesting ones in the area.  Look at the shape of those blooms!

It's not a complete rarity in the area, as some people may believe, but to find it can be a bit tricky.

In a general sense, an easy way of finding these may be to look where bluebells are also blooming, as they tend to prefer similar soils and forests.  They can be found in other places though.  The "breeches" in the common name refers to the similar shape of sort of pants worn years ago.

Northern Virginia's beautiful sessile trillium.
Sessile Trillium (Trillium sessile) is another really interesting looking flower that inhabits Virginia. 

To me, it's interesting to see brown in a flower (pictured in the center of the flower), as a lot of other flower species on the ground that people commonly see are brightly colored.

I found a few here and there along the Potomac River a few days ago, but came upon a few large patches eventually after looking for a while.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)  is one that never seems to get past my eyes when I'm out and about in the woods this time of year.

It's all over un-mowed lawns, deep forests, and even near the Potomac River.  It can be hard to miss in places, as there are patches of it where individual flowers range in the thousands.  It's no wonder that it's called "spring beauty" as it is a wonderful sight to see after a long winter like the one we had this past year.  Each petal is streaked with a darker pink or purple color, and it can be fairly easy to identify.  Look for these in basically any wooded area in Loudoun or Fairfax, and you have a decent chance of finding them. 

Spring beauty flowers in bloom in Sterling, VA.

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