Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Many Faces of Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Your blogger decided to take full advantage of the sunny and warm afternoon mother nature bestowed upon southeastern Ohio today and laced up his walking shoes and strolled out to the bike path for a bit of exercise.  The long and cold winter certainly softened me up a bit and with prime hiking season nigh on arrival, I certainly could use the physical activity!

I'm very fortunate to have the Hockhocking Adena bikeway pass very close to my residence and I've used it countless times both on foot and on my road bike in the past.  The bike path runs along the Hocking River for a large majority of its 18 mile trek from Nelsonville to Athens and conveniently allows for a very scenic and stunning country ride at almost any time of the year.  However, I would be quick to vote spring as the prime time to set foot down its hardened asphalt stretches.  Few other spots in all of Athens county has the wildflower displays and species diversity as some select, well-known hillsides and ravines do!

As I headed down one of my favorite sections I found it hard to keep at a steady, fast pace as my eyes scanned the steep gradients and deep, sweeping hollows for signs of spring's influx of color.  I quickly noticed the prominence of sharp-lobed hepaticas (Anenome acutiloba) blooming en masse all throughout the woods and was surprised to see so much diversity in the different shades of color their sepals were portraying.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, this species of early spring ephemeral can range from white to pink, to purple and blue as it emerges from underneath the leaf litter and the bike path was certainly backing up that claim with a splendid performance. I decided to make use of my iPhone's camera and documented as many of the varying color shades as I could and figured it would make a fun, short post to share on here.  All six photographs below were taken along the two mile stretch of bike path I walked today and only increased my giddiness for the avalanche of wildflowers soon to break loose!

Classic white-colored form

The most commonly found and occurring of all the hepatica's color schemes is the classic off-white.  It's not at all rare to see some pinkish hues as they first break bud but that quickly disappears and is replaced with a brilliant snow white radiance.

Blue-purple hue
Majestic lavender form

There's a hundred and one different shades of purple to try and discern from with the hepaticas and I'm not one to be picky on how you want to go about it.  Other than white, I think the most commonly seen color pattern seems to be the purplish-blue mixture as seen on the left.  You can also have one of my personal favorites in the perfectly saturated majestic hues of the lavender specimen on the right!

Lovely deep pink coloration
Crowd-pleasing white and light purple/blue hue

Every once in a while I would see a few small clumps of a lovely deep pink coloration hiding in the shade of the towering trees overhead.  They were wonderfully accompanied by the bi-coloration of some specimens exhibiting a white and bluish-purple mixture.  I've observed before other hepaticas showing off the same pattern but in varying shades of pink and purple instead of blue.

Brilliant, rich deep blue heptaticas

It's only appropriate I save the best for last in the royal, deep blue hued hepatica clumps.  You have to catch these early on before their colors fade to a softer blue/purple in my experience and I was certainly pleased to be lucky enough to have my timing just right.

Dozens of other spring ephemerals were just beginning to break bud and sprout along my walk and it won't be long before the bike path is set ablaze with their seasonal beauty and splotches of color.  I'm sure I'll be back again soon to share the Hockhocking's priceless spring fireworks show!

1 comment:

  1. There can be no greater compensation for enduring winter than the explosion of all the hues of Hepatica on the first warm days of spring. Your photos have captured these hues in all their glory!