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Round-lobed Hepatica

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

Kiran and Shaan were supposed to come with us, but Shaan forgot he had a birthday party and bailed. Kiran had the sniffles, which she thinks is from allergies, so she stayed home.

The air was crisp and refreshing, but we soon warmed up as we stumbled along the rock-laden pathways. We traversed the rocky landscape while Jared shared his knowledge of the season’s first wildflower blooms. I don't remember the names of all the flowers Jared showed us, but this one was my favourite. I kept calling the trout lily, a yellow wildflower, the striped salmon. The group laughed 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 dry leaf bed. The ornate and mottled leaves are visible year-round. The furry-stemmed flowers arise in the earliest spring; fur on the stems and new leaves protects against April cold fronts. Solitary bees pollinate the hepatica, and forest ants disperse the seeds.

Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana)
Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana) · Saturday 25 April 2015 · Nikon D5100 · 90 mm f/2.8

The variegated and mottled leaves are visible year-round. The furry-stemmed flowers arise in the earliest spring; fur on the stems and new leaves protects against April cold fronts. Solitary bees pollinate them, and forest ants disperse seeds.

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.

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

Intensive Yellow

On Saturday — before the storm broke — we had a bit of family hiking fun. Bhavna had registered for use to go on a geocaching hike in the Sourland Mountain Preserve as part of a fundraising event planned by the Sourland Planning Council.

We arrived early and were briefed for 30 minutes on the basics of geocaching by Eric Lemon. Eric and his sons are avid geocaches who go by the moniker “Twisted Lemons” on

Once we were acquainted with the terminology (apparently we are muggles) and had entered the cache coordinates into our iPhones — I used MotionX GPS and Bhavana used the free Geocaching app, we set off into the woods. The trail was easy enough and about 20 minutes into it we, a motley crew of about a dozen adults and kids, found the cache.

Bhavna was disappointed. She had expected we would be out for some strenuous hiking and exploration. Eric told a few of us more ambitious hikers about several other caches and Bhavna was resolved to find one more.

We followed the gas pipeline up the hill before “bushwhacking” our way through a tall thicket of yellow flowers, grass and burr weed. The kids complained about being hot and hungry but we persisted. Kiran found the second cache after about an hour. We were triumphant but exhausted, sticky and hungry so we headed back down the hill to the base of the event where we dined on delicious pizza from the Nomad Pizza truck.

If you look closely you can see that I have passed the image through a texture. In this case, Topaz Clean.

The original image. | Saturday 8 September, 2012 | Nikon D40 | 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6

2011 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk in the Sourland Mountain Preserve

I had an exhausting but fun walk through the Sourland Mountain Preserve in Hillsborough with a group of local photographers for the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk. Despite cloudy skies and the constant threat of rain, we had a good turnout — about fifteen people. We split into two groups and went in different directions. I had a great time chatting about family, photography and life.

The path was muddy and slippery with wet leaves. I got down low to take most of my photographs and I realized that I may want a macro lens.

The challenge now is that I can send only one photography — hopefully, my best – for the photo contest. Which would you choose? Let me know in the comments below.

Sourland Mountain, Scott Kelby Photo Walk
Web of Deceit
Sourland Mountain, Scott Kelby Photo Walk
Sourland Mountain, Scott Kelby Photo Walk
Leafy Green
Sourland Mountain, Scott Kelby Photo Walk
Legs go for a walk.
Sourland Mountain, Scott Kelby Photo Walk