An Afternoon at Alley

I had to work at one of our Alley Spring offices today and instead of driving to Eminence for lunch, I walked the spring trail. There was a group of folks ahead of me that took the trail around the back of the spring, so I went across the bridge below the mill and followed the trail along the branch down to the vehicle bridge.

It’s hard to pass the mill and spring without taking a photo and today was no exception:

Not much to photograph along the backside of the spring branch except a conveniently placed sycamore seed ball

until I reached the vehicle bridge. Just upstream of the bridge was a clump of Alder (Alnus serrulata) growing in the gravel.

The only alder native to Missouri, it’s found mainly in the southern part of the state and along the Mississippi River. The red catkins are female, the others male.

After crossing the bridge, I followed the mowed area along the edge of the spring branch and finally found some wildflowers. The first two were familiar to me – Small Bluets (Houstonia pusilla)

and Johnny-Jump-Ups (Viola rafinesquii.)

The other two I had seen before, but never taken the time to identify. They were Peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum)

and Bittercress (Caramine pensylvanica.)

There is a second bittercress (C. parviflora) that’s tough to distinguish, but it prefers drier, upland sites and C. pensylvanica likes wetter conditions. Both are edible, either raw or cooked.

Next, and finally, I found trees with these blooms growing very close together.

I think they’re both Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum.) It has both male and female flowers so I’m assuming (a dangerous thing to do, I know) that accounts for the difference in these flowers. Or the second could simple be more developed, I don’t know. If anyone can provide more information on that, please let me hear from you.

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