Thursday, May 21, 2015

May Flowers

Spring is in full swing by mid-May in Central Carolina, and at this frenzied pace, she seemingly brings new sights and sounds and scents by the hour.
An ill-timed week-long business trip to New Jersey prevented us from bringing you the in-depth play by play we would prefer, but Hunter and I did manage to carve out a few hours for a brief backroad tour... 

It's hard to miss the glorious white southern magnolia blossoms dotting the suburban landscape at every turn this week, but not quite as abundant or obvious are her gorgeous wild cousins. This umbrella tree, Magnolia tripetala, with its parasol-like arrangement of glossy over-sized leaves, greeted us from the roadside forest near San Lee Park. 

A little closer to the ground in the sunny wide open spaces, our native prickly pear cactus, the eastern prickly pear, Opuntia sp., blazes bright yellow with the abundant sunshine of May's lengthening days;
and judging from the plethora of buds on the neighboring pads, this show won't be over anytime soon.

Down by the pond another sun-lover, our carnivorous friend sundew, Drosera sp., has captured a curious winged creature in its sticky embrace.

While this Drosera won't bloom until summer, the plant itself is so beautiful we couldn't resist including it in our May flower review...

Vivid stands of purple-blossomed Venus' looking glass, Triodanis sp. , populate the roadsides and field margins throughout the area, and they're certainly worth slowing down for a closer look.

Gazing into the still, dark waters of Duncan's Creek, the bright and cheerful blossoms of blue flag, Iris virginica, stand in stark contrast to the brooding pool below.

We'd heard rumors of a remnant population of these lovely wild iris near the heart of our childhood haunts in Harnett County,

and this marvelous day in May brought glorious confirmation of their persistence.

As we swung back to west and headed toward home, we chanced upon an impressive colony of wild Carolina roses, Rosa carolina (or perhaps a close cousin), 

wilting just a bit in the heat of mid-afternoon, but lovely nonetheless.

A bit farther along we encounter the false indigo bush a.k.a. indigo bush, Amorpha fruticosa,

another old friend, hanging out with its crew on the banks of a woodland stream.

Not merely a thing of beauty, 

the distinctive blossoms attract a variety of pollinators and pollinator predators alike.

A lush herbaceous forest forms in the clearing left by a now not-so-recent timber harvest; 
long dormant seeds freed from the shadows of the pines, 
germinate and rise to splendid weedy heights, 
none higher than this tall meadow rue, Thalictrum sp.

We wind up our journey, refreshed and renewed by our all too brief excursion on the back roads of Central Carolina, 
inspired, enlightened and determined to come back soon...

We hope you'll join us!

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