Friday, March 30, 2012

My Secret

Day 72
The Daily DuBrule

Nah nah nah nah nah. I know something you don't know. I know where there is an entire hillside covered in Dutchman's britches (Dicentra cuccularia) and it is in full bloom right now. 

I am an active observer of native plants. In early spring, I have lots of favorite locations that I purposely drive by looking for specific wildflowers. Dutchman's britches is a harbinger of the beginning of the spring wildflower season for me. Also called squirrel corn, this diminutive beauty is found in woodland settings, usually on rocky slopes. It looks like a miniature form of dwarf bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia). Its flowering season is brief, usually just a few weeks. Then the seeds ripen and the plant self sows readily. It is easily propagated in nurseries which makes it one of the best spring ephemerals to buy and plant if you are trying to create your own woodland garden. It goes dormant within a month after blooming.

I finally started spotting this little beauty today as I made my rounds all over the shoreline. It's about time. With the early spring weather, I was surprised it took so long. Ironically, my route today just happen to take me past my favorite stand of Dutchman's britches. I won't tell you where it is because this place is sacred to me. I don't want to take a chance that anyone would go there and start trying to dig them up. Not that I think anyone that was a big enough plant geek to read The Daily DuBrule would do that or anything.

A few years ago, when I spotted this particularly gigantic stand of my favorite early spring wildflower, I pulled my car over, grabbed my camera, and decided to inspect it closer. That is when I found out that mixed in with the Dutchman's britches was red trillium. Wow! As far as the eye could see, the forest floor was carpeted. This is a really good reason to work really hard to keep invasive barberries, burning bushes, honeysuckle, and multiflora roses out of our woods. If they get in, this plant won't be able to coexist. The good news is that if you clear the invasives, many times these wildflowers come back. But not always. Stay vigilant, fellow wildflower lovers. Don't let these magnificent gifts of Mother Nature disappear. 

1 comment:

  1. I know where one is too! (Mom's backyard. hehehe. Don't tell anyone, ok?) I love them - they're so cheerful.