What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to find and photograph 2 new flowers! I had received a phone call from Larry, a botanist friend, who gave me directions to find Wister's or Spring Coralroot (Corallorhiza wisteriana). I had looked for it at Haw Ridge the past 3 years, to no avail. This year he flagged it for me! Had he not put that flag there, I probably would have missed the plant again! There were 2 plants, only about 5 - 6 inches tall. Coralroots are saprophytes, they have no chlorophyll, they obtain their nutrients from decaying leaves and other organic matter in the soil. I got some pretty funny looks from the guys riding by on their mountain bikes, I guess it isn't every day they see a woman laying on the ground with a camera! :)
Another strange flower that blooms in the spring is Squawroot (Conopholis americana) a non-green plant that is parasitic on the roots of oak trees. I call it "Bear's Ex-lax" because it is one of the first plants the bears eat when they come out of hibernation! The light yellow parts in this photo are the flowers.
I saw a new flower to add to my life-list on that walk too! That is always a thrill! I had a pretty good idea what it was because I had seen a "close relative" of it in the Smokies. It is Yellow Horse Gentian (Triosteum angustifolium), its relative (T. aurantiacum) has maroon flowers and orange fruits. I get really engrossed in my photography sometimes and I don't notice what is going on around me! While I was down on the ground zooming in on the yellow flowers with my macro lens, a woman and her huge dog walked up the trail, unbeknownst to me. Suddenly, as I was taking a photo, the dog barked loudly and I just about jumped out of my skin! I laughed and said to the dog, "You messed up my picture!" :) Nature photography is full of surprises!