Mother’s Day turned out to a perfect time for this annual outing hosted by Saugeen Nature. Two young families joined members Nikki May and Susan Clarkson at the East Parking Lot of Kinghurst Nature Reserve.
The first part of the trail meanders through a mature pine plantation that had been thinned a few years before. Young hardwoods were springing up everywhere, and on the ground some of the spring ephemerals had gained a toehold. There were many patches of Trout Lily, with a few blooms here and there, some purple Dog Violets added a touch of purple to the palette.
The trail through the pine plantation ends at a grassland with a large wetland to the east. A wide variety of bird species were seen and/or heard in this area, including Tree Swallows, Common Snipe, Baltimore Orioles, and Bluebirds. After a pleasant walk across the grasslands where we noted Pussytoes, Mouse Ear Hawkweed, and Downy Serviceberry, the group arrived at the edge of the hardwood forest that is a key feature of the Kinghurst Nature Reserve. Ms. May pointed out the young maples growing up everywhere at the edge of the forest, where they had seeded themselves into the meadow. Given enough time without management interventions, the meadows would return to their original hardwood forest and the grassland species would be replaced by woodland plants..
Once inside the hardwood forest, the group looked up at the canopy and discussed the reason why the spring flowers choose this time to bloom so profusely. They are taking advantage of the light that reaches the forest floor before the leaves come out and block most of the sunlight. And profuse bloom is the right description. Everywhere you look around, the forest floor in this mature woodland is rich with a wide variety of wildflowers. Trilliums dominate in many places because they are a relatively large plant and bloom for a significant length of time. A rare curiosity that we noted was a 4- leaved, 4 petalled Trillium, located near the fork in the trail.
Photo by Jerry Asling
Hepatica, with its white, pink and pastel blue flowers is almost totally gone by mid-May, but the yellow Trout Lilies were still profusely blooming on the rich forest floor. Common Toothwort and Cut-leaved Toothwort were also in full bloom on Mother’s day, while Caroline Beauty with its tiny flowers could be found here and there among the leaf litter. Blue Cohosh, with its small purple and yellow flowers was everywhere we looked.
These are just a few of the flowers that we saw on Mother’s Day. Others like Red and White Baneberry, Solomon’s Seal, and Jack in the Pulpit had yet to reach their full maturity, leaving the opportunity to see these and other flowers on a future visit.
The families enjoyed the stroll through the woods and some were fascinated by the flowers while others were more interested in the many birds that call Kinghurst home. Saugeen Nature hosts many events at Kinghurst throughout the year. Check our website at www.saugeenfieldnaturalists.com to find out details of other outings.
Submitted by Nikki May