(Pictured, a trio of trillium, plus a bit of my finger.)
As we make our way through Virginia, as spring slowly overtakes winter, the flora and fauna make me giddy. For years, plant identification has been a passion of mine. It began when I lived at Koinonia Farm and walked the Peace Trail nearly every day. I would draw the leaves and petals in a sketchbook, or try to memorize them if I had none, and then run back to the farm library or office to look for its image and name. After a few years, many of the plants names are buried below consciousness, but out here, seeing them again and re-finding their names is like remembering and reuniting with old friends. Each species makes its appearance, first at the lower elevations, then higher and higher. Not to anthropomorphize, but the flowers encourage, and pull me forward out of curiosity and desire to learn more. Just yesterday a plucky, perfectly formed Jack-in-the-Pulpit perched right on the edge of the trail, and a white-spotted adolescent rabbit crouched in the fog with its eye glowing in fear. Each one is a gift. A passerby can touch all the felty mosses, wonder over the strange fungi, and watch fields of trillium perk as the sun breaks through clouds.
Don’t know if anyone but me will find this interesting, but I have started a list, which will live on this page. I’ll update it every so often, but below I have cut-and-pasted my current inventory. Question marks mean it’s not a certain identification… yet. Enjoy!
Squaw root, a parasite of oaks.
Bedstraw, a sticky grass
Showy orchis, blooming soon?
Poor man’s pepper
Wild bleeding heart
Partridgeberry (two flowers needed to make one berry, which has two navels)
Bloodroot (a leaf unfolding wildly folded)
Violets: violet, halberdleaf yellow, white, and bicolor
Trillium, pink and white
Rhododendron aka azalea, Catawba variety blooming late April!
Pipsissewa? Or striped wintergreen?
Jack in the pulpit
Fire salamander, a tiny wild orange