I found this guy sunning himself on the path in Dunn Woods in July of 2015. I am not well versed in the world of insects, but I am pretty sure this is a Red-spotted purple, aka Limenitis arthemis. Funny name, as the butterfly is obviously blue, not purple. On the static image below, you can see the red spots on the upper part of the wings. The red-spotted purple is a mimic of the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail, which would seem to be its main defense. It is a member of the largest group of butterflies, Nymphalidae, which are commonly called four footed, butterflies as they stand on only 4 of their 6 legs, the two front one are usually curled up. They are also known as brush-footed butterflies, as the two front feet are often quite hairy. Other members of the Nymphalidae include emperors, monarchs, admirals, tortoiseshells, and fritillaries. It took me a good hour to figure this one out, if you have a favorite site or book for IDing butterflies, let me know!
Dunn Woods has a large colony of Erythronium albidum, the White Trout Lily, which is rarer than its cousin the yellow trout lily, Erythronium americanum. The white lilies appeared just after April Fool’s day, and are still going strong on April 12. A few yellows have appeared, but the main body of them is still dormant. Both are spring ephemerals, and come out a bit later than the early birds like Harpinger of Spring, Cutleaf Toothwort, and Spring Beauty, all of which have been in bloom for a while. Today I found that the white version blooms fully before the yellow variety. A couple of yellows are out in some sunny spots, but the whole colony of white trout lilies is blooming now. Some folks use the term Fawn Lilies for either type, as it is the leaves that remind one of the mottled skin of brown trout, or a young fawn.
This colony is growing en masse on both sides the path highlighted here. They certainly seem to enjoy growing together in a homogenous swatch. Underground the elongated bulbs can be dug (not in Dunn Woods!) and cooked like any root vegetable, or dried and ground into flour. The bulbs are small compared to potatoes, but with with hundreds/square foot, they are an abundant forest crop.
The yellow version is sometimes called dogtooth violet, but this seems to me to be a poor name for it as it is not related to the violet family, even though it appears at the same time of year. But the violets last long into the summer, while the Erythroniums are true ephemerals and will stop blooming in a few weeks. So take a walk through the southeast quadrant of the woods, and you will see these beautiful spring ephemerals.
In my original rationale for bike riding, written in 2002, I mention both the health benefits and my love of being close to nature. Now I realize that I have some other motivations as well, I’ll fill these in as I have time.
- Low oil lifestyle
- Time for Reflection
Here is some stuff I wrote back in ’02, before blogging hit the big time!
In the Fall 1998 I started riding my bike (an old Schwinn Collegiate that I bought to commute to my job at the Bloomington Voice/Independent). After much cogitation, I bought a Trek 700 in July of 1999. A hybrid bike, it offered me the ability to hit the road for a long ride around Lake Monroe, but also served to navigate the potholes of Bloomington. I rode it through December of 1999, and I am sure it was a major contributing factor to a neck spasm, causing pain and numbness down my neck and back. As I ride to lower my blood pressure, I could not give up riding. Through the generous help of good friend Kevin Atkins, I was able to start riding an old (but well maintained) Rans Status.
I try to enjoy short trips (15-20 mi.) each day, and once a week a longer journey (40+ mi.), usually around Lake Monroe to the south, or around Lake Lemon to the north. I logged 4500 miles in 2001, but due to an increased work load, made just 3800 in 2002. I replaced the back cassette and chain last spring, which improved the over all performance by 20 percent. I have been having trouble in the recent snow with freezing cables, but no falls as yet!
While riding my mind is occupied with observing the plants and wildlife here in southern Indiana. In a single week I’ve seen kingfishers, hoot owls, bluebirds, hawks and eagles. I’ve coasted past fawns standing innocently in the road, and saw my first red fox crossing Lanham Ridge Road (and I have seen 3 more since). On March 8, 2003 while riding around Lake Monroe, I saw first a flock of sandhill cranes, then a group of very talkative red-tailed hawks, and on Chapel Hill road I startled by 4 wild turkeys, who flew right past me. On the botanical side, I’ve found wild bergamot, bellflower, fire pink, and pawpaw. I’ve eaten dandelion, watercress, mulberries, apples, black raspberries, blackberries, may apples, sumac, rosehips, persimmons, and mushrooms, including a specimen of Agaricus Campestris, I found right on the IU campus!
My concern about the PCB pollution here led me to study the watersheds and the karst typography of Bloomington, and I’ve developed an interest in knowing where I am in relation to waterflow, what creek or sinkhole takes the water I see on my rides. We have some great hills here, dropping in and out of the creeks that feed the two forks of the White River in the Norman Uplands/Mitchell Plain area where Bloomington is located.
May Apple, Podophyllum peltatum, aka American Mandrake and Ground Lemon, is common in the woodlands of southern Indiana, and is well represented in Dunn Woods. Last week they were just starting to poke their heads up, but this week they have fully popped out their full leaves. May apples typically have one or two large leaves. The two leaf versions produce flowers and eventually (in June) a fruit. They grow in colonies from a single rhizome, or rootstock. As an alternate name (American Mandrake) suggests, the plants are toxic, containing podophyllotoxin, which is used topically to remove warts, and has shown some promise as an anti-cancer and anti-viral agent, but don’t try this at home!
They produce a smooth lemon sized fruit that is edible in small quantities when fully ripe (they turn from green to yellow when ready). Some folks have a bad reaction to them, but I found them delicious, they are sweet/sour, and have the consistency of grapes. But they are very are to find when ripe, it seem the mammals in the woods get to them just as they turn yellow, it is a bit like trying to find a ripe paw paw, the animals know where and when to pick, and don’t leave much for humans!