Wild on the Water

This past couple of days, I’ve been able to get the kayak back in the water … was beginning to think I would need it as an ark! Wildlife is a bit slow right now, probably due to all the rain and the higher-than-normal temps we’ve been having. But I have been able to get some wildlife shots and will be posting them very soon. However, one of the biggest differences I’ve seen lately is the amount of blooming plants/wildflowers along the banks and the islands of the local Conservation Department area I’ve been working. Getting quite a bit of color and I thought I’d highlight some of the things I’m seeing in this post.

The first plant I want to share is the Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). This plant is considered a wildflower by the state, although it really is a bush, and can get quite large. The Buttonbush is always located near water, usually along borders of lakes, rivers, sloughs, or river bottoms. And sometimes it grows directly in the water. It is a large, multi-stemmed bush with the flowers located terminally, in ball-shaped clusters of minute 4-petaled white blossoms. Eventually, spherical masses of pods will split open and supply wood ducks with a food source. Here is a large bush:

Buttonwood Bush

And here is a closeup of the showy blossoms that are now showing up:

Buttonwood Bush blooms

The next flower that is just passing peak color, is what locals call the Wild Rose (genus/species unknown), although it looks quite a bit different than a standard rose. This plant grows abundantly in our area; we even have a lot of this growing on our nearby acreage. Although this plant can grow in full sun, it usually is found along the border of woodlands. Here is a bush growing on one of the Conservation islands:

Wild Roses along the bank

And here is a closeup of one of the flowers:

Wild Rose bloom

The last plant I am highlighting is not in bloom yet, but will be very shortly. This Conservation area has a heavy growth of American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea). This plant typically can be found in oxbow lakes, sloughs, and ponds. The leaves of this plant are normally above water level, and are circular and can be up to 2-feet in diameter! The American Lotus was an important plant to the native Indians, who dug up the starchy roots with their feet and consumed young shoots and the seeds as a food source. Today, waterfowl eat the seeds and large colonies of the plant are important nurseries for fish and other aquatic life, as well as shelter for ducks. Here is one of the blooms, which will open soon:

American Lotus bud

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