It’s spring wildflower season! Drewiske Preserve is a good place to look for them. Pictured here is a Bloodroot (Sanguinaris canadensis) flower. Its roots and stems contain a red-orange sap, which is where the name comes from. Flowers have 8-10 white petals surrounding a center of yellow stamens (which hold the pollen). Each flower only blooms for a day or two, but the plants themselves will keep producing flowers until the end of May.
Many ferns are unfurling here. The cool moist rocky ledges near the stream are perfect for certain types of ferns. This one is in a group called the fragile ferns (genus Cystopteris). Ferns of this type are abundant in the ravines and gorges along the Kinni. This one is very likely Bulblet Fragile Fern (Cystopteris bulbifera), which can only grow in calcareous (rich in calcium) soils and rocks. It forms little bulbets on the underside of its leaves, which can germinate and grow into a new genetically identical adult fern!
This Bishop’s Cap (Mitella diphylla) is still a seedling. In May and June, it will be about 18 inches tall with lacy white flowers. A good way to identify a young unknown flower is to mark it with a colorful stake or garden label. Then you can return later and see what it has become!
Monthly phenology reports about the Kinnickinnic River and watershed are brought to life by Stephanie Erlandson, a long time environmental educator, and plant ecologist.