Friday, April 13, 2012

My favorite plant this week

My favorite plant this week is Collinsia verna, or blue-eyed mary.  The plants photographed here are found in Warren County, Ohio growing along a rural road.  I used to live in this area, and had seen this plant several springs but never remembered to ID it and collect seed.  I had not seen this spot for years, and on a drive home after a meeting in Cincinnati, I decided to check it out.  I remembered only a small population along the road, but was surprised when I found thousands of plants growing on the terraces above Dry Run.  This member of the Scrophulariaceae/Plantaginaceae is a spring ephemeral with an interesting quirk.  Rather than being a long-lived, slow-growing perennial like many other herbs of the forest floor, this species is an annual.  I can't understand why I haven't seen this in any gardens.  

A close-up of Collinsia verna

The roadside habitat of Collinsia verna

Thousands of plant carpeting the floor of a young woodland and growing with Phlox divaricata

Blue-eyed mary is an indicator of high quality woodlands.  Also found in this area are; Trillium grandiflorum, Trillium sessile, Phlox divaricata, Delphinium tricorne, Polygonatum biflorum, Uvularia grandiflora, and many others.

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