Submitted by Chris Baburek
The March meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists featured a presentation by Brian Carson, “Treasures of the Ottawa Valley”. Brian is an avid searcher and photographer of wildflowers found in the area, with a particular interest in trilliums.
Brian led us on a tour through the growing season, beginning with bloodroot, the first wildflower to appear in the spring. He explained that the name is a result of the blood-red sap that can be seen when the stem is snapped. While the leaves can last for a while, the flowers generally get blown away in the early spring winds. He showed photos of several mutations: 12-petal forms, some with different lobe shapes, some extraordinarily large and a double bloodroot.
Next up was the hepatica. Brian noted their beauty and told us that they have almost reached cult status in Japan. They generally have six to eight petals, sometimes more, and are shades of white, pink or blue. But Brian discovered a green and white hepatica, not previously reported in North America. He also found double hepaticas, the only previous such report was from the US.
Brian is particularly passionate about trilliums, which most of us take for granted. He stressed how fortunate we are to find so many types and mutations of trilliums in our area “hiding in plain sight”. He showed many beautiful photos, including trilliums with four petals, one with five petals, one with no petals, variegated and leafy forms, red trilliums in many different colours and painted trilliums.
Brian then moved on to describing the various orchids found in our area. He began with the ram’s head lady slipper, not spectacular to look at but it is quite rare and the largest global colony is found locally. He then went on to show photos of the yellow, pink and showy lady slipper, as well as the checkered rattlesnake plantain and the ragged fringed orchid. He also showed us the lovely nodding ladies’ tresses, fringed and bottle gentians.
To close his talk, Brian revisited trilliums and described his excitement at finding a double trillium for the first time, and reporting the largest colony of double trilliums ever recorded. Brian’s devotion to the subject matter was evident at several points in his presentation when he showed photos taken on his property where he had cultivated wildflowers. He also pointed out that some of the natural areas where he found wildflowers had been destroyed and noted that certain areas needed protecting from development so that we have these gorgeous gems to appreciate for years to come.
There is no regular MVFN monthly meeting in April, as we are holding our Spring Gathering, featuring “Into the Planet” with Jill Heinerth. Please see mvfn.ca for further information.