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Monday, March 31, 2014

Shoal Creek Nature Preserve

 
We found the most wonderful small nature preserve today. It's just north of Florence, Alabama. About 300 acres and 5 miles of hiking trails, and a 2-mile horse trail.

There are several creeks through the tract. I think this one is Lawson Creek. We crossed the bridge and did the Lawson Trail loop.

Lawson Creek

Sunlight on running water sure is a welcome sight!

Lawson Creek

We immediately began seeing wildflowers. There are too many pictures today, and I won't even show you all of them. Here is Rue Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides, a sweet little spring gem that is also found in the north.

Rue anemone

I wanted to take a picture of the back of this leaf (no ID yet), and look what I found when I looked at the photo on the computer! A cute little green spider. No ID on him either.

green spider

Of course, it seems like every natural place has to have it's own invasive species. This is a new one to me, but it was easy to find. It's a vine, with some early leaves that look like oak leaves, but the terminal leaves won't have the lobes. Well, I suspected it was a honeysuckle, and it is. Lonicera japonica, Japanese honeysuckle, is already banned in some states, and labeled noxious in others. It's virtually impossible to control once established, and crowds out native plants. Sigh.

japanese honeysuckle

Here comes the best find! I have added a new flower to my life list. This is Sweet-Betsy Trillium, also known as Large Toadshade, Trillium cuneatum. I kept looking for one that was all the way open, but now that I've studied the flower book, I think it's at its prime when the petals are still erect, and the open one is "over the hill." Either way, it's gorgeous. [species and upright habit confirmed with a real botanist]

Sweet-Betsy

I think it doesn't always have mottled leaves, either, but we saw everything from almost all dark green, to ones like this with almost no dark green.

Sweet-Betsy

I couldn't resist a closeup of the velvety stamens.

Sweet-Betsy

And when we were almost back at the start, a lovely female tiger swallowtail butterfly decided to dance around us, and she even let us take her picture.

toadshade

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5 comments:

Ann said...

You found it! You found spring time :) Hoping we get some of that here pretty soon.
I've never seen anything like that last flower. It's really pretty.

The Furry Gnome said...

Great pictures! Spring is a long way ahead down there!

Secondary Roads said...

That must have been a delightful walk.

vanilla said...

You find the most interesting places. Perhaps I should get off the couch?

catskillblogger said...

At first I thought you were in MI and I was thinking that spring came really quickly to you guys...then I reread to see you are in the south. Very beautiful!

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