Monday, May 03, 2010
Trout Lily -- Erythronium americanum
The Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) flowers in late April and early May in central Maine, where I live, at about altitude 100 feet above mean sea level.
The flowers are short-lived, lasting perhaps a week, and are timed to coincide with when the leaves of the maples and oaks are just emerging (size of a mouse's ear) and lots of sunlight is still reaching the forest floor.
Trout lilies are perennials and grow in large colonies and take their name, trout lily, because their oval leaves contain odd tannish spots and blotches and look somewhat like the body of a brook trout and they like to grow along the banks of trout streams.
Trout lilies seem quite fussy about where they live. There is one small rill across the street, which dries up in summer, that holds all of them. They are entirely absent from the other several acres of the same contiguous woodland.
Getting a little beetle sitting there was a big plus.
If you haven't, get a copy of Richard Dawkins' book, "The Extended Phenotype," in which he makes a credible case that flowering plants have evolved to control the minds and bodies of insects and use them as pollinating 'tools' in a relationship which borders somewhere between symbiotic and one-sided in favor of the plants. Quite interesting.