In my continued quest to capture spring, I spent the morning taking a closer look.
Lest I take myself too seriously, let me begin by saying my inspection wasn’t always as thorough as it might have been. I was wowed when I discovered a four-flowered starflower. I know they can produce up to five, but typically I see one, two or three flowers. Um . . . I think this is actually two plants. Oops. The great discoverer I have yet to become.
But check out the wild sarsaparilla with its three globe-shaped umbels.
I don’t know if I’ve ever actually noticed the green-petals that fold back. And it’s a tad bit hairy.
Whenever I see the common buttercup I’m transported to my childhood–we placed it under each other’s chins. If your chin reflected the yellow glow that meant you liked butter. Mine never failed. 😉
And then it was the tiarella that pulled me down.
Its terminal cluster of flowers is said to resemble foam, thus the common name of foam flower.
Holy stamens! Each spray of a flower consists of five sepals (outer circle that appear petal-like), five petals that narrow as if they form a stalk, ten yellow-anthered stamen and two pistils, one of which is longer than the other. Amazing. And more hair!
Because it’s equally beautiful, bountiful and birdlike–I couldn’t resist another pause for fringed polygala or gaywings.
The next attention getter–the double-toothed American elm leaf with its asymmetrical base.
I love to contrast it with beech leaves. Apparently, both are quite tasty.
And I found a culprit. One of many. I know that the caterpillars and insects have to eat, but it seems like the leaves work so hard to protect themselves only to be munched upon in a short span of time. So much for the protective hairs.
What I really wanted to focus on, however, was the ferns. Last week’s crosiers are this week’s fronds and fertile stalks.
I guess I’m most fascinated by the manner of the tiny green spore beads clustered together–in some ways they mimic the shape of a frond. Again, hair.
Already, a few are turning the cinnamon color for which they are known.
Upon one, I found a crane fly. Check out those body segments and spindly legs. Adult crane flies, like May flies, don’t eat. Their mission in life–to mate and lay eggs.
Because they like the same conditions, interrupted fern grows nearby. In this case, the fertile leaflets interrupt the sterile ones.
It’s another beady appearance a tinge darker in color and the presentation is different.
I think my favorite of all (don’t tell the others) is the royal fern. Maybe it’s because my friend Judy calls me the queen. I’m not sure what I’m the queen of, but I do love the crown that is beginning to unfurl.
Maybe it’s the elegant structure. Or that fact that no other is like it, so I can easily identify it. The spore cases are clustered at the tip of the fern giving it a bit of a crown appearance.
The other fern that grows in this place hasn’t developed its separate fertile stalk yet. What drew me to the sensitive fern this morning was the drops of dew that gathered on the frond–and offered a magnification of its veins. A glimpse into its life-giving force.
I hope you’ll make time this spring to take a closer look and wonder about the world around you.