Spring Wildflowers At Beamer Memorial Conservation Area


Spring Wildflowers At Beamer Memorial Conservation Area

Bloodroot Flower, Closeup, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

These fragile spring wildflowers, Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) belong to the poppy family.

Beamer Memorial Conservation Area sign, Grimsby

One spring, Bob and I drove to the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area in Grimsby, Ontario, for our first visit ever.  The protected area came highly recommended by our daughter as a destination for hiking that included beautiful views.  She had discovered it whilst on a bicycle excursion to the area.

Carolinian Canada Sign, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

Beamer Memorial Conservation Area is one of the most extensive escarpment forests in the Niagara Region.

Bloodroot Plants on Forest Floor, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

As Bob and I walked along the forest trails, we began seeing patches of bright green leaves poking up through the otherwise brown leaf litter on the forest floor.

Bloodroot Flowers and Leaves, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

On closer inspection, we found the spring wildflowers to be the native Bloodroot or Bloodwort, so called because of the red sap or juice stored in the rhizome below the surface of the soil.  This red liquid was once used by indigenous people to dye baskets and clothing, as well as for war paint and insect repellent.  The generic name, from the Latin sanguinarius, means bleeding.

Bloodroot, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

The single Bloodroot leaf and flower each rise on a separate stem, and at first, the leaf completely embraces the flower bud.  The clear, white, many-petaled blossom sometimes opens before the leaf has completely unfolded itself.

Bloodroot Closeup, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

The leaves of Bloodroot are large, round and deeply cleft.   This fragile spring flower develops and rises from the center of its curled leaf, opening in full sun, and closing at night.  The petals have a short life and fall off to reveal the developing seed pod.

Jean takes pictures of various plants at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

Various other plants captured our interest along the hiking trails, but in some cases, Bob and I had to look very closely to see them.

Spring Beauty Flowers, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

Tucked into a sheltered crevice at the base of a tall maple tree, I found some tiny, delicate Spring Beauty wildflowers.  These plants are one of the most common native perennials in the eastern part of North America.  They are low-growing wildflowers that grow in a star-like cluster of five white to pale pink flowers.  The narrow leaves are dark green and grass-like.

Spring Beauty wildflowers, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

Closer examination of the petals reveals an array of fine pink stripes and a pleasant floral fragrance.  As young girls, my sister and I associated these flowers with Mother’s Day.  We knew them only as Mayflowers and would gather handfuls of the dainty blooms to present to our mom on her special day.  These blooms, like those of the Bloodroot, close at night or during storms and cloudy weather.  Good thing we were there on a sunny day!

Jean takes pictures of plants at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

It kept Bob and I busy that afternoon checking out all the burgeoning new spring growth.

Forest at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

Sun-dappled fresh green moss liberally covered exposed surfaces of limestone slabs which served to remind us of the escarpment upon which we were hiking.

Trout Lily and Moss, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

Poking up through the dense mat of vibrant green moss were numerous Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum).  These perky spring flowers are also known as Adder’s Tongues or Dog-Toothed Violets, although they don’t belong to the violet family.

Trout Lilies, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Trout Lilies come by that particular name because the mottled pattern on their leaves resembles that of the skin pattern on a Brook Trout.

Northern Blue Violets, Lichen-encrusted Rock, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimbsy

Another sweetly fragrant spring flower that was already blooming was Northern Blue Violet (Viola septentrionalis).

Northern Blue Violet, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

The lower petals of this flower are bearded, as you can see in my photo.  The erect flower stem droops slightly, as if bending its head towards the ground.  Perhaps that is why the flower is associated with modesty and decency.

Cut-leaf Toothwort Plants, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

There seemed to be no end of fascinating plants alongside the walking trails at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area.  Above, we see some examples of Cut-leaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata).  Its delicate beauty makes it anything but common.

Cut-leaf Toothwort, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

The Cut-leaf Toothwort plants were between 6-12 inches tall and were topped with a cluster of small 4-petaled pink or white flowers.  These stand above a whorl of leaves that are deeply divided and coarsely toothed.   Indigenous people once chewed the roots of Toothwort to alleviate toothaches, suggesting another possible explanation for its common name.

blue cohosh at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area - Grimsby

A plant new to Bob and me was this purple-flowered Blue Cohosh, a member of the Barberry family.  Previously known as Squaw Root or Papoose Root, the plants were used by indigenous people for medicinal purposes.  Owing to the delicate, understated flowers, this native plant is underappreciated.

blue cohosh, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, Grimsby

Another Blue Cohosh plant growing nearby had more fully-developed leaves yet the bulbous, blue pods seen in the centre of the photo represent unopened flower buds.  Come August, the stems will support clusters of hard “berries” that are actually seeds protected by hard outer coats, each covered in a blue skin.  This was our first time coming across a Blue Cohosh plant, and we had to seek help from the Field Botanists of Ontario for proper identification.

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Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean


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