Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Wild Trout Lily
Trout lilies and our homestead exist together in contradiction. We have the single leaved never flowering plants by the tens of thousands. Both the meadows and the woods are filled with the barren plants. Rarely do we find a trout lily in bloom. These three flowers and a bud are the best display ever found here. The close proximity of flowering plants and nonflowering plants is a mystery.
John Burroughs, in the first essay of his book Riverby, discusses the habits of this lily. He found the bulbs of flowering plants eight inches below the surface of tough sod. Bulbs of nonflowering plants were less deep. Since all of these plants started from seed, Burroughs felt the mechanism that sent the bulbs deep worthy of study. The glaciers left our land filled with stones of all sizes. I have no trouble seeing the impossible task of a bulb sending itself eight inches into the ground here. Multitudes of shallow nonflowering bulbs are a rather obvious consequence of our stony ground. The mystery is the source of all of the original seed.
The shameless nature of these flowers deserves mention. I understand that reproduction is the name of the game for flowering plants. With the sepals clasped behind, the parts to be pollinated are pushed forward. Their moment in the sun is short, leaving no time for coyness.