Dispersed by Forest Ants, Round lobed Hepatica Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa NIKON D5100 20150425 5968

This afternoon, Bhavana and I went for another hike in the Somerset County Sourland Mountain Preserve. The hike, a Wildflower Walk, was organized by the Sourland Conservancy Stewards. The hike was led Jared Rosenbaum of Wild Ridge Plants, LLC. Jared is a naturalist advisor to the Sourland Conservancy’s Sourland Stewards program. Turn’s out we had met Jared’s wife Rachel Makow. Rachel led a wild edibles walk through the Grandview Trail two years ago and we were a part of that.

Kiran and Shaan were supposed to come with us but Shaan forgot he had birthday party and bailed. Kiran had the sniffles. She thinks she has allergies. We left her at home.

The air was crisp and cool but we soon warmed up as we stumbled our way along the rock laden pathways. We traversed the rocky landscape while Jared shared his knowledge of the season’s first wild flower blooms. I don’t remember the names of all the flowers Jared showed us but this one was my favorite. I kept calling the trout lily, a yellow wildflower, the striped salmon. The group had a laugh every-time I got it wrong.

I spotted the round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa) while walking, looking down as I moved along. It was one of two poking out from beneath the dried leaf bed.

The ornate and mottled leaves are visible year-round. The furry-stemmed flowers arise in earliest spring; fur on the stems and new leaves protects against April cold fronts. Pollinated by solitary bees, seeds dispersed by forest ants.

I rented the same Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di VC USD Macro that I used for the vernal pool walk. I lit the flower with my Nikon SB-600 and a Rogue Flashbender.

Dispersed by ants? I never knew that ants were involved in the life cycle of flowers! You can find the entire photo set on my Flickr.