|Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)|
|Ill-scented Trillium (Trillium erectum)|
|Jeweled Shooting Star (Dodecatheon amethystinum)|
|The Mississippi Palisade and Purple Cliffbrake Fern (Pellaea atropurpurea)|
|Hill Prairie above Mississippi River|
|Your blogger with the Mississippi River in the background|
|Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteri)|
Not wanting to return to the office work we were planning to do, we decided to continue on to another high quality nature preserve. We drove a short distance to Ayers Sand Prairie Nature Preserve, also in Carroll County, where we could observe plants that are adapted to sand.
|Ayers Sand Prairie Nature Preserve and Dwarf Dandelion (Krigia virginica)|
In the Scrophullariaceae, Blue Toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis) is named because the leaves of the plants resemble those in the Linum genus, which are called Wild Flax. Toads were also believed to seek refuge beneath the branches of these plants, hence the name "toadflax." Sounds like a stretch to me but still a neat plant to observe.
The most exciting observation here was seeing the mass bloom of the Bird's-foot Violet (Viola pedata). I had seen plenty of this one before, but never in such great abundance.
If it were a nice day we could have hoped to see some Ornate Box Turtles (Terrapene ornata), but it was still cold and rainy so they were hiding. The rain also caused us to head back to the vehicles and call it a day. But I rarely make it over to this part of the state and I wanted to see more. I remembered seeing a sign for Apple River Canyon State Park on my drive over so I decided to return home the way I came so that I could take the 6-mile one-way drive into the canyon.
|Blue Toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)|
|Bird's-foot Violet (Viola pedata)|
|Apple River Canyon State Park, Jo Daviess County, Illinois|
I specifically wanted to see the Bird's-eye Primrose (Primula mistassinnica) and I knew that it grew on the moist cliffs along the Apple River. The area was easy to find and there was a parking lot directly across from it. I looked around on the cliffs from the other side of the Apple River but I didn't see any purple flowers and the river looked deep so I wandered upstream to photograph the canyon.
Then I remembered I had my binoculars so I returned to my car and when I scanned the cliff again, I saw clumps of little purple flowers, mostly high up on the cliff. I looked at the deep water in front of me and thought, getting wet is not going to stop me from going over there and getting a photograph! However, I was able to find a spot downstream that was wide and was able to wade in my knee boots to the other side without getting wet. But all the good specimens were beyond reach with my camera! I photographed one here and then one there, but couldn't find any to my liking.
I returned to the spot I started at and went the other way and managed to find a suspended ledge I could scramble up on and there I found exactly what I was looking for. Several very happy clumps of blooming plants. I smiled in satisfaction and vowed to return later in the summer when another rare plant would be in flower on this very same cliff, a plant known as Sullivantia (Sullivantia sullivantii).