Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mark Your Calendars: Flora-Quest 2012!

Spring is almost upon us and it's never too early to begin planning on how you want to spend it!  If you regularly read this blog you will notice how much time I spend in the southern-most Ohio counties of Adams and Scioto.  It's no coincidence, as these two counties are the most botanically diverse in our state and harbor many rare and interesting species you won't see anywhere else in our state!  Southern species cross the Ohio River and cling to existence in the cedar glades and barrens on the Edge of Appalachia Preserve system and the continuous rolling forests of nearby Shawnee State Forest

How could you go wrong spending a weekend with some of Ohio's most knowledgeable and passionate naturalists, birders, botanists, lepidopterists etc. guiding you through the endless flora and fauna of these areas?  You can't!  So check your calendars and circle the weekend of May 4-6 for Flora-Quest!  A weekend spent at the lodge and conference center deep in Shawnee state forest; you will spend an unforgettable time learning all about the diversity and history of the area by those who know the area best!  I highly encourage you to check out the Flora-Quest website for more information on events, trips, accommodations, guides etc.  Yours truly is a guide this year and will be teamed up with birding extraordinaire Greg Miller of The Big Year fame.  If you aren't familiar with his epic birding quest, a book-turned-movie based on his and a couple other birder's experiences was released last fall.  For a fun review check out this link here!

There are plenty of other trips to choose from with out-of-this-world guides!  There are no wrong choices and each offers a unique experience with plenty of highlights and surprises.  I attended the event last year and had the time of my life.  A blog post about my experiences from last year's Flora-Quest can be found by clicking right here.  To cap off this advertisement for surely the most fun weekend you'll have this spring, here are a handful of wildflower species you are sure to see should you attend!  I hope you will check out Flora-Quest and give attending some serious thought.  I guarantee a great time, sun or shine!  The wildflowers, warblers and smiles will all surely be in peak numbers!

Dwarf Iris - Iris verna

Last year's wildflower species sponsor was the gorgeous Dwarf Iris (Iris Verna).  This showy species is a short bloomer but can be seen on the dry, acidic ridge tops just down from the lodge.  An easy and must see!

Flowering Dogwood - Cornus florida

An instantly recognizable and crowd-pleasing favorite of spring are the cream blooms of the Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida).  These shrubs and small trees are a dime a dozen in the area and will be a guaranteed sight all weekend.

Prairie Phlox - Phlox pilosa

Some folks will get lucky and get to experience the marvelous flowers of the Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa) as they grace the small prairie openings throughout the Edge and Adams county.

Large Yellow Lady's slipper - Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens

On the mesic slopes throughout selective hollows in Shawnee and the Edge hide the Large Yellow Lady's slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) orchids.  This event times the spring-flowering woodland orchids to perfection each season!

Star Chickweed - Stellaria pubera

Blooming throughout the lower slopes and valleys is the common but still striking Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera).  It's still worth the time to appreciate and admire the common spring bloomers as well.

Pink Lady's slipper - Cypripedium acaule

On the acidic and dry ridge tops of Shawnee and in scrubby Virginia pine stands on the Edge are the lovely and delicate Pink Lady's slippers (Cypripedium acaule).  There are few other plants that will take your breath away like this one in large numbers.

Indian Paintbrush - Castilleja coccinea

Last but certainly not least is this year's wildflower sponsor, the Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea).  These showy plants are a common sight in the prairie openings on the Edge and sure to brighten anyone's day!

I hope to see some new faces at Flora-Quest this year and encourage you to seek me out and say hello!  Hope to see you all there!