Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 8, 2011 Beauty Ignored - Bendix Woods

Huge expanses of Large-Flowered Trillium, T. grandiflorum
For six years we've gone to Bendix Woods, a St. Joseph County Park, to see the fantastic wildflower display in late April or early May, and never have we seen more than one or two other cars in the Hardwoods Picnic Area parking lot.  When our group of seven arrived today, no other cars were there.  We saw only two other people on the Big Tree Trail during our two-hour walk.  (The big trees are Beech, maple and tulip poplar.)
There is no way to ignore the beauty once on the Big Tree Trail
We've seen a greater diversity of wildflowers in other woods, but never such high populations of Trillium.  Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) are the most striking at first glance, but many other species are squeezed in between them.
T. grandiflorum and Flase Rue Anemone, Enemion biternatum
Trillium's name derives from the sets of three petals, three sepals and three leaves.  Picking or browsing the three lone leaves effectively stops photosynthesis and severely threatens the health of the plant.
T. grandiflorum and Wood Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum
Wood Poppy
On the Lower Big Tree Trail we began to see many white Drooping Trillium (T. flexipes).  The Drooping Trillium flower is a bit smaller than Large-Flowered Trillium, and predictably, the flower's stalk droops low, sometimes below the leaves.
Drooping Trillium, Trillium flexipes
A tall red species of Trillium, Prairie Trillium, is common throughout the woods.  Although it isn't as showy as Large-Flowered Trillium, its dark red, erect flower and mottled leaves are most attractive.
Prairie Trillium, Trillium recurvatum
The scientific name, T. recurvatum, comes from the way the three green sepals curve down.  The red petals tend to stay erect, without opening completely. In the center of the flower are six almost black pollen sacs (anthers) that hide the pistil, with the ovary at its base.

Three violet species were common in the woods --- Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia), Yellow Violet (V. pubescens) and Canada Violet (V. canadensis).  Below is the white Canada Violet.
Canada Violet with Wild Ginger leaves on the right.
Below the Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) leaves are tubular red flowers.  Wild Ginger is an attractive native ground cover, both in woodlands and in gardens.
Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense
Two-Leaved Toothwort,  Cardamine diphylla
Toothworts are part of the Mustard Family.  Two species grow at Bendix Woods --- Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) and Two-Leaved Toothwort, C. diphylla. The Cut-leaved Toothwort is nearly done flowering, but the Two-Leaved Toothwort is still in full flower.  It grows in the wet areas near the bridge on Lower Big Tree Trail.

We were happy today to see a flowering plant we don't remember seeing before; so far we haven't been able to identify it.  If anyone recognizes this plant, we would be grateful if you would write a comment.

Below are plants in flower at Bendix Woods today that we didn't mention above:
Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica
Wild Blue Phlox, Phlox divaricata
Blue Cohosh, Caudophyllum thalictroides (almost over)

Squirrel Corn, Dicentra canadensis (almost over)

Dutchman's Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria (almost over)

Jack-in-the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum
False Mermaid, Floerkia prosperpinacoides
Cleavers, Galium aparine
Wild Geranium , Geranium maculatum
Wood Anemone, Anemone quinquefolia
Gooseberry, Ribes species


  1. Fabulous day and wonderful photo and written reprise of the adventure. Thanks so much for including us. Our friends were enormously impressed by all the new wonders of wild flowers and nature lore.

  2. I now think this is Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa. In Newcomb's Wildflower Guide, for 5 parts, opposite divided leaves,& shrubs. it keyed out as Sambucus pubens. When I used that name in the USDA Plants database, it listed the name as Sambucus racemosa; this database showed that S. racemosa is just in the top tier of counties in Indiana and listed it as Endagered in KY & IL, but not IN. Joh Jay Smith