six on Saturday, 18 March 2023

The weather here in Blount County, Alabama, remains wildly changeable–hot and windy to cold and wet in oddly rapid succession . Today, Friday, is one of those cold and rainy ones. It’s a good thing I took a few photos yesterday because now just about everything is closed up and droopy. What I have for this six on Saturday are all natives and, except for one item, spring ephemerals. None of them I planted. They are all nature’s woodland gifts, although a little more sparsely offered this year than usual. So, let’s get to them while they are still around.

1. The first is one of my favorite woodland ephemerals–rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides). It is a wonderfully delicate perennial, native to eastern North America. Plant guides claim that it will grow 4-8 inches in hight. Mine are certainly in the 4 inch range. The featured image shows them growing around a very young daylily, which provides scale. They are not very plentiful this year, but maybe more will emerge as we move into a warmer spring.

2. Even less plentiful is a wildflower closely related to rue anemone and easily mistaken for it–wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia). A differentiating characteristic, its leaves are more deeply cut. The photo below was taken yesterday in the sun. Today, all the flowers are closed; to that point according to the Forest Service at the US Department of Agriculture, wood anemone is dependent on sun and tends to close in rain and at night, unlike many white flowers that remain open at night for nighttime pollinators.

3. Next is another small yellow-white flower that is an early bloomer–and I find that it can come up just about anywhere. It does not need the anemones’ rich woodland soil and prefers more direct sunlight. False garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve) is also called crow poison. The jury is out as to whether it is poisonous to crows, but it is recommended that no one eat it to test out its toxicity.

4. Bellwort, however, is listed as a medicinal herb, and its young shoots reportedly can be eaten. Another common name for Uvularia perfoliata is merrybells. It is not a flashy springtime plant, but the downward facing yellow flowers certainly are reminiscent of bells.

5. Trilliums or wake robins, are the most prolific and wide-spread of all the native spring flowers emerging in the garden now. The one below with its characteristic mottled leaves and maroon flower is Trillium cuneatum or little sweet Betsy, or wood lily. The eye-catching three upright maroon petals tend to obscure the color of yellow stamens in the center, so I tried to capture them in the middle photo below. The plants will go dormant in the hotter summer months. I remember only the four trilliums on the left from last year. Because they spread by rhizomes, I suspect the small plants on the right-hand photo just below those larger four are the result of such spreading. It will be a few years before they will be mature enough to bloom. All in all, a great woodland plant.

6. My final plant for this week will stay around all year–wild ginger or little brown jug (Hexastylis arifolia). In a few weeks, brown, jug-shaped flowers will develop under the heart-shaped leaves, hence the common name. On the left below, we see that this patch of wild ginger came through our strange winter well. The area here is one in which there are primarily native wildflowers; however, self-seeding hellebores are threatening to take over. Their numerous tiny seedling can easily be seen in the photo on the right. I will be pulling them out in a few weeks and potting many of them up for a Master Gardener plant sale.

Those six are the best of the color that is breaking out in the garden right now–except for the never tiring hellebores. Much of what I usually see budding now is not. I’m concerned about how far behind the azaleas are–especially the Alabama natives. Maybe soon I’ll have a hopeful update on them.

In the meantime, readers will find a beautiful array of other plants in gardens across the globe in the comments and links at , Garden Ruminations, the site of our Six on Saturday leader, Jim Stephen.

10 Replies to “six on Saturday, 18 March 2023”

  1. Thank you for posting your beautiful photos of spring ephemerals. They are a favorite of mine. I have posted a few myself. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens will be having a spring sale with many natives available on April 14 through April 16.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of your ephemeral natives would be grown as choice non-native woodland plants here, I grow Uvularia and have grown and lost Trilliums. Some thrive, most struggle, it’s good to know that you value them as plants in the garden and are keeping things like the Hellebore in check.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Trillium are going wild this year! They have always been here, but are growing and blooming remarkably well, likely in response to the unusually wintry weather. I do not remember how many species are native here. One looks just like yours.

    Liked by 1 person

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