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Mariton: Interesting Wildflowers

May 8, 2016

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

Saturday was overcast, but the precipitation had already passed by when we started our Wildflower Walk. From a spring ephemeral wildflower’s standpoint it doesn’t matter if nature deals a period of cold, cloudy, rainy weather.  These flowers have to make seeds before the canopy leafs out and shades the forest floor.

Pennyroyal

Pennywort

We saw a great variety of wildflowers. One of the neat flowers that I am seeing more and more at Mariton is the Pennywort (Obolaria virginica).  It just started showing up a few years back.  This year it has really expanded.  I couldn’t find a lot of information about this wildflower, but on Rutger’s website it used the word “mycotropic”, meaning it likes soils with a rich soil mychorizzae profile.  Could Pennywort’s expansion here be a sign that our work removing garlic mustard is paying off?

One-flowered Cancerroot

One-flowered Cancerroot

Another interesting wildflower that is easily overlooked is the One-flowered Cancerroot (Orobanche uniflora).  This is an interesting wildflower because it has all the necessary flower parts, but lacks chlorophyll.  So it can’t get food from photosynthesis.  It literally taps into the roots of other plants to get its food (probably aided by soil mychorizzae).

Showy Orchis

Showy Orchis

On a related note, the Showy Orchis (Orchis spectabilis) needs soil mychorizzae for its seeds to germinate.

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