Kentucky woods and springtime

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Harry and I recently went to Natural Bridge State Resort Park near Slade, KY, one of our favorite places to hike. Our spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is blooming (read last year’s spicebush post), and I was pleased to find it scattered through the woods as well.

blooming lindera benzoinWith all of our recent warm weather, plants are a good two weeks ahead of their usual schedules and there were plenty of signs of spring.

We saw several scarlet cup mushrooms (Sarcoscypha dudleyi) including these three nestled together.

sarcoscypha dudleyi mushroomsI also discovered devil’s urn mushrooms (Urnula craterium) for the first time.

Urnula craterium mushroomsWe saw several butterflies, including a Mourning Cloak and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, but the only insect I was able to photograph was this impressive darkling beetle (Alobates sp.), that I met along the trail.

Note: After posting this, I had an email from my good friend Judy Burris, co-author of Life Cycles of Butterflies, suggesting my “darkling beetle” might in fact be a Bess beetle, (Odontotaenius disjunctus). I sent an ID request to BugGuide which confirmed Judy’s information. Thanks, Judy. I appreciate.

Alobates beetleWildflowers included anemones, bloodroot, spring beauties, and toothworts. However, I especially enjoyed the hepaticas (Hepatica acutiloba). Most of them were white but a few clumps were lavender, like this one that grabbed my attention.

hepatica acutilobaWoods seem like enchanted places to me, full of mystery and magic and I totally enjoyed discovering the new signs of life. This was probably as much fun for me as an Easter Egg hunt is for children.

10 thoughts on “Kentucky woods and springtime”

    1. Thanks for that compliment, Louise. I’m certainly not a painter but I’m glad when a photograph helps you think of a painting.

  1. It’s looks like there’s lots of great new stuff popping up out in KY. I especially loved the devil’s urns. They look so scary – imagine if you were a little bug looking into one of those! Everything is starting to pop up around here in UT, too. I’m enjoying the forsythia outside my office window. Thanks for the blog – it is very fun to learn from you about all these things as they stir from a KY winter.

    1. Hadn’t thought about it, Keli, but yes, the devil’s urn does look a little foreboding – as though it might not be a good idea to put your hand inside it! If you’re seeing forsythia you must not be too far behind us.

  2. I was at Raven Run just over a week ago and saw the hepaticas in bloom. I seem to miss them every year so I was especially delighted to see them. Beautiful photos as usual and I am delighted to see a comment from my very dear friend Louise who is a wonderful artist. She saw that spicebush through her creative eyes – as did you!

    1. Ann, your mention of Raven Run reminds me I must get there. With this warm weather our spring ephemerals will not last long.

  3. We have a spicebush butterfly in our garden this week sipping nectar from the dogwood and crabapple. My small spicebush is getting leaves so I guess the timing is OK but very early – like everything else. I love the mushroom pictures.

    1. Linda, you get the honor of reporting the first spicebush sighting. The only thing I’ve seen in our yard so far, are white cabbage butterflies and one sulphur. (sigh) I’m trying to be patient.

  4. If the picture of the spicebush spoke to Louise as “waiting to be painted”,
    it was the picture of the Hepaticas that spoke the same message to me and
    I agree with Keli concerning the possible stories inherent in the devil’s urn mushrooms. Your internal poet said it all – “Woods . . . are enchanted places,
    full of mystery and magic.”

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