8 May 2022
The first week of May was full of new flowers, leaves, birds and insects. Here are just a few of many sightings.
The ground in Schenley Park is dotted with abundant clusters of cream colored leafless flowers poking up like corn cobs beneath the oaks. Conopholis americana is a parasite on oak roots so we never see the plant itself, only the flowers. Fortunately it doesn’t harm the trees.
Formerly known as squaw root, Conopholis americana has many alternate common names. The accepted name now is “American cancer-root” but that sounds scary and can be misleading. I prefer “bear corn” because it looks like a corn cob and bears do eat it.
While the bear cone bloomed below them, the oaks flowered and leafed out above. This drew in migrating birds to eat the insects that hatch among the leaves.
May’s tiny green caterpillars are too small for me to photograph but here’s what they look like in June, munching on an oak leaf. This is warbler food!
At mid level in Schenley Park the pawpaws (Asimina triloba) opened their bell-like flowers.
And Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) bloomed in Frick Park.
(photos by Kate St. John)