Monday, March 16, 2009

Semi-tame Wildflowers

Down the sides of the ravine between the EDC and the Peace Learning Center there are some not-so-wild wildflowers growing: the leaves of the familiar daffodil are poking up from the forest floor in good-sized clumps. Most of them were probably planted by the Lilly family (who built what is now the Peace Learning Center as a summer residence), and we have been told they are of an older variety not commonly seen today. Daffodils are are originally from Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and are not native to North America. Although they are an exotic species, daffodils are not considered to be an invasive species; they spread slowly, and do not outcompete the native wildflowers. Daffodils are also sometimes called jonquils or narcissus, and in the southern US they are sometimes referred to as buttercups, although "buttercup" can refer to several other species of flower as well.

Another non-native spring flower found in Eagle Creek Park, the bright electric-blue flowers of Scilla are easy to spot. The name is pronounced "Sill-uh," and it is also known as Siberian Squill. There seems to be quite a bit of variation in the common and even the scientific names - I've seen it called Scilia, Scilla siberica, and Scilla sibirica. Scilla is a member of the lily family, and, as the name suggests, came originally from Siberia. I wasn't able to find any information on whether they are considered invasive or not in Indiana, but I hope not - they're awfully cute! We found this one growing at the beginning of the Pin Oak trail in front of the EDC.

And yet another non-native early spring flower probably planted by the Lilly family: Snowdrops, also introduced from Europe. These hardy little white flowers are usually among the first flowers to bloom, sometimes even in February. They've spread to create large patches down the sides of the ravines just north of the Peace Learning Center.

Here's a close up of a snow drop bloom - when hanging down it is hard to see their beautiful green centers. This one had some tiny beetles living inside, and while I was watching, several bees and flies visited the other flowers to gather pollen and nectar.

The leaves of Virginia Bluebells were poking out of the ground near the same area as the Snowdrops. Some of them had a purplish cast, making them look like little cabbages. This one had some flower buds forming already - usually they don't bloom until later. Virginia Bluebell is actually a native wildflower to Indiana.

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