I spent April 2 through 9 on the road visiting trout lily (Erythronium americanum) populations in VA, PA, and NY, in hopes of running experiments to test the ecological consequences of pollen colour variation.
I was too late for peak flowering at Riverbend Park in Fairfax Co, VA. I was, however, right on time for the bluebells, Mertensia virginica, a happy consolation prize. The Trillium sessile were also pretty neat.
The population at Bellaire Woods, Lancaster Co, PA, was just ready to flower when I arrived. But — my arrival also coincided with record breaking cold temperatures. I attempted a pollinator array on April 6. It seems 10C was just warm enough for flowers to (try to) open, but not for pollinators to fly. Over two hours of observation, I saw just one bee visit one flower.
Finally, and not surprisingly, I was too early for trout lily flowering at Six Mile Creek, Ithaca NY: the reproductive individuals were only beginning to emerge. I identified some promising populations, though, and look forward to returning in a week or two to try again.
Working with a spring ephemeral isn’t easy. These plants offer but a small window of opportunity each year, and the whole venture can be thrown off by a bit of inclement weather. But any time I feel the slightest bit of disappointment, I have only to look at the forest around me, awakening after a long winter, and I’m reminded that I’ve got one of the greatest offices on Earth.