Fahrney Branch Wildflowers

My son Joshua and his wife Jessica purchased a 4-acre farmette in Monrovia, Frederick County, Maryland.  This is their first spring at their home, which includes two-acres of stream valley bottomland, with a perennial stream known as Fahrney Branch, a tributary of Bennett Creek, which then flows to the Monocacy River.

The forested slopes are oak and the bottomland is mature sycamore, red maple, green ash and pin oak.  The flats include originating headwater spring seeps, skunk cabbage, spicebush and literally tens of thousands highly ephemeral trout lily.  On slightly drier ground I noted may-apple, a species of wood lily (species yet to be determined), marsh fern, sensitive fern, New York fern and cinnamon fern, marsh blue violet, common blue violet, marsh blue iris, and dozens of other species.  I’ll make sure to visit again soon to see what’s in flower in late May.


The highlight plant of the day was an aggregate of some sixty-odd blooms of celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum).  An entire section of sunny slope was ablaze with poppy!


Celandine poppy is native to the mid-Atlantic states, including Pennsylvania, south through Virginia and west to the Mississippi River.  This uncommon poppy is a long-lived perennial of moist woodlands, with seed pods that ripen and burst in mid-summer.  Seeds are dispersed primarily by ants.


I think it was about peak-prime time for yellow trout lily (Erythronium americanum) in flower.  I took this particular photo from walking in the stream and taking the photo on the bank.


What an attractive ephemeral wildflower.  It was about 6:00 PM and the sun was getting low in the sky, providing long shadows of dappled sunlight on the forest floor.


The hummocks were loaded with dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius) beginning to flower, with bursts that look like exploding fireworks.


Patches of great star chickweed (Stellaria pubera) were common on the slightly drier ground.


The rich alluvium and benches of the slopes included several discrete aggregates of sessile-leaved bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia).


These were the only few in bloom, and I suspect peak for this plant will be in another week from now.  Bellwort leaves look a little like Solomon seal.


Small Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum, subspecies pusillum).


The delicate and dainty rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides).


I also saw the similar and more hearty, tall meadow rue, which will not flower until later in the spring and early summer.


Nearly two-year old Harper Francis would yell “pecker” from up at the back lawn every-time she heard the pileated woodpecker (Hylatomus piletus).  We found the bird’s cavity hole and watched her fly in and out.  Soon she will be feeding young, and we should be able to get some great photos of the large crow-sized birds for a future blog entry.