Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring ephemeral a day - Early meadow rue

What: Last Wednesday, Leah, Sophie, Brooke and I took an early morning trip out to Red Rocks. The sunrise was gentle and elegant over Shelburne Bay. It was serene watching the ring-billed gulls cut lines across the water. We watched a few lines of cormorants heading north. Beneath our feet, we enjoyed the first of the spring ephemerals shivering their way up in the leaf litter. I was particularly captivated by the beauty of the early meadow rue (Thalictrum dioicum) unfurling into itself.

Ecological notes: Early meadow rue is superficially similar to blue cohosh (Thalictroides caulophyllum, thalictroides = thalictrum: thaliktron, Greek name for plant similar to meadow rue + -oides: resembling, looks like, so blue cohosh is the plant that looks like the plant that looks like an unknown plant that Dioscorides described in Greece). Blue cohosh looks like a beefed up, simplified meadow rue (I'll post about blue cohosh soon). Besides the shapes of the two plants being similar, the most notable similarity is their color. Each emergent plant has a deep purple tint to it. As the plant unfurls, it loses this coloration. My guess would be that, as a tree's leaf has yellows and oranges and other fall colors throughout the growing season, they don't show these colors during the growing season as the density of green chlorophyll increases and overshadows other colors in the leaf.

Where: Red Rocks, growing along the cliffs under scattered white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and common red cedar (Juniperus virginiana).

Other notes: When I was first learning plants, I didn't know about Newcomb's wildflower guide and was more or less on my own. So I just made up names for them. This was the only plant I remember. I called it bear paw because the leaves reminder me of happy little bear feet dancing across the forest floor.

1 comment:

  1. thank you so much for helping me id my photo.
    wonderful post.