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Roses are Red, Violets are... Yellow??? part 2

I depend on my readers to keep me on my toes, and to call me down when I make a mistake. Several of you pointed out to me, that in the article of two weeks ago, although the title was “Roses are Red, Violets are Yellow ?”, there is no mention of the yellow violet. Somehow that paragraph fell through the cracks. So, I am including it in this week’s notes with my apology.

Editor's Note: I take full responsibility for the omission of the Yellow violet paragraph. It got missed during the process of cutting and pasting from email to the blog. Sorry, Paul.

Yellow Violet

The last violet for discussion is surprisingly, yellow in coloration. I have seen only a very few yellow violets on our farm, but that was many years ago and seem to have disappeared altogether along with many other flowering plants. Still, you may be the one to re-discover yellow violets on Milford Millponds Nature Preserve lands. Most likely some do exist. My daughter recently located a yellow violet at Conowingo State Park, Maryland. Just a couple of weeks ago she found three Smooth Yellow Violets (Viola pennsylvanica) blooming on nearby Killen’s Pond State Park lands as well. From a distance they could be easily be overlooked as yellow Oxalis. Since the seed capsules are quite conspicuous, I was able to locate two more non-flowering plants in a sea of Marsh Blue Violets at this same location. This yellow violet is a stemmed violet (see photo), that is, the leaves emerge from a stem rather than just as a rosette of leaves emerging from the base.

Yellow Violet showing stem, faded flower and seed pod.

So, keep your feet on the ground and your eyes open to new discovery. If you should locate some, or any other rare or unusual plants, take lots of pictures, keep accurate records, the exact location, plus site description. Report such findings to the Delaware Natural Heritage Program, 4876 Haypoint Landing Road, Smyrna, De, 19977. A rare species reporting form can be downloaded. Or if you’d rather, contact me through the Abbott’s Mill Nature Center [302-422-0847] and I will be sure to get your data forwarded. The more eyes the merrier.​

******************************************************************************************************************************** Pink Slippers in Trouble

Lady's-Slipper trio

This week’s article is about the Pink Lady’s-slipper and how they seem to be disappearing as well. About fifty years ago, I remember numerous places on our farm where the Pink Lady’s-slipper, or Moccasin Flower, Cypripedium acaule, grew in abundance. At the edge of the mixed pine and hardwood forest between Shawnee and Apel’s Road they were especially plentiful.

Lady's-Slipper nice grouping

Another “hot spot” was along Staytonsville Road near the intersection with Blacksmith Road. In the forest here on the Tantrough Branch it was not uncommon to find groups of six to twelve plants along the edges or in the clearings. Just five years ago I noticed two emerging directly at the edge of a certain trail. When I went back the next day to give the plants some protection, both were clipped off about one inch above the ground in the distinctive diagonal nibble of a deer.

White-tail Buck caught in the deed.

In the last two years I have located only one plant on the entire 100 acre tract. My neighbor tells me that she has a couple of plants in her woods. I think the enormous increase of the white-tailed deer population is to blame. Hardly a violet, mayapple, or orchid is left untouched. Where formerly there were large patches of Sweet Pepper, Clethra alnifolia, now is nothing more than stubble.

Mayapple and Greenbriar deer damaged

The same is true for the Serviceberry, or Shad bush, Amelanchier canadensis. Those few trees that survive to grow taller than the deer can reach, are thrashed about when the bucks begin to rub the velvet from their antlers until, quite often, they too die. Serviceberry and Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana are favored plants for antler scrubbing. Not more than ten years ago we were amazed upon seeing a group of four deer; now we commonly see herds of twenty. Hopefully the Fish and Game people will

ultimately find a solution for this problem in the near future.

Lady's-Slipper, caged but secure.

My personal action is to cage our single plant. So far this has kept my plant safe for two years. Naturally this would not be possible over large areas.

White Lady's-Slipper, Maine

Pink Lady’s-slippers vary in color from pale, pale pink with noticeable veining to deep pink. Rarely entire white populations are found (see photo). So enjoy these photos of local Slippers. Pink Lady’s-slippers can be found in the Abbott’s Pond woods and at the Blair’s Pond Tract. Hopefully you will get out and see them before all their flowers fade. Take lots of pictures and have loads of fun. You just might hear the wood thrush sing.

Lady's-Slipper, pale pink and veining
Lady's-Slipper, deep pink specimen
Lady's-Slipper floral pouch
Pink Lady's-Slipper specimen
Lady's Slipper flower structure

In loving memory of my brother and fellow trail maker, David W. Layton

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