Tag: Wild L:eek

Small Winter Finds


With the mild winter we have had thus far, with very litter snow, it is a good year to get out and try finding the smaller things we so often overlook. I am talking about the world of lichens and mosses with some fungi thrown in as well. Lichens are interesting and complex organisms which are a symbiotic partnership of two separate organisms, a fungus and an alga. The fungus is the dominant partner, giving the lichen the majority of its characteristics. The alga in lichens are green, blue-green or many times both are types. Lichens come in many, many shapes, colors and growth forms. To really appreciate them you need to look very closely. A good hand lens or loop are helpful. I like to shoot them with a macro lens and then enlarge the image to 100 percent on the screen to look at the detail. Lichens do not have vascular structures like plants to move water. They absorb all their water and food from the surrounding environment from the air and rain. When you find lichens start looking closely to see how many different ones you can find. On the trip when these photos were taken, I found at least five different ones on one split rail fence rail.

Wild Leek Seed

Another thing to watch for in winter are plants in their winter state. Many plants remain upright and identifiable in winter. One woodland flower that can be found all winter, if it is above the snow is the Wild Leek. Its shiny black seeds will be where each flower was in the rounded umbel from the July flowers. Identifying plants in winter can be fun, challenging and rewarding. So, get out and see what you can find.

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Coming to a Woods Near You – Really!

Skunk  Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

It has been a long cold winter and some of us are skeptical that spring will ever come this year, but spring is happening around us. A couple of nights ago while driving through Riverside, I heard frogs for the first time this spring. Many birds such as Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Killdeer and Sandhill Cranes have all returned from their wintering grounds and can be heard singing from morning till evening. And yes the spring wildflowers are beginning to expose themselves in the woods and wetlands.



While at the Hudsonville Nature Center today I could identify some early spring flowers that I found. The Skunk Cabbage has already bloomed and beginning to send up the bright green leaves; although still small they are a welcome sight this spring. Wild leeks are also showing rolled leaves, Spring Beauty is leafed out and showing little round balls of flower buds. Toothworts are showing up as curious little purple plants just poking through the leaf litter in the woods and Marsh Marigolds are unfolding their leaves. As we have warmer weather over the next few weeks there will be flowers blooming and many more plants coming out from a long winters nap.


While you are out in the woods, keep in mind that with the moisture of spring the mosses are worth looking for as well as the beloved flower of spring. With some warm sunny days ahead get out and see how much you can find.

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