Skunked!

March 7, 2020

Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo

After our first wildflower talk of the year at Ridgedale Library, we headed out into a day with temperatures in the fifties to begin looking for this year’s wildflowers. True, it was only March 7, and snow still piled in places, but the sound of running meltwater wove through the air, and how could we resist such gorgeous weather even if we might not see a single flower?

In the last few years we’ve found skunk cabbage, one of Minnesota’s very earliest native wildflowers, growing down by Minnehaha Creek.  Water cascaded over the falls in fantastic ice sculptures as we slipped and skidded alongside the creek until we reached the boardwalk.  And there the first dark snouts of skunk cabbage were already poking through the ground, some still thawing the snow around them with their own created heat, some already free of the snow.  It’s not just us who feel as though spring is almost here–skunk cabbage must feel it, too.

If the skunk cabbage at Minnehaha Falls was already making an appearance, what about the ones at Nine Mile Creek that grow in a runoff gully where even more sunlight reaches the ground? Happy to stay outside on this glorious day, we headed for the creek to find even more skunk cabbage even further along in its blooming.

Delighted with our skunk cabbage finds, we wondered: could pasque flower, another early bloom, possibly be sending up its furry flower buds? We’d seen pasque flowers last year in a small goat prairie in Bloomington, a few minutes drive away on the other side of Nine Mile Creek.  More slipping and sliding to get to the goat prairie where we didn’t find a single pasque flower bud, but we did discover the greening leaves of prairie smoke and cinquefoil.  In a week or so, we’ll be back, and so, we hope, will the pasque flowers.

Who knows what treasures we’ll find this year chasing wildflowers? We are excited to find out!

 


 

Author: kellypovo

Kelly Povo, a professional photographer for over thirty years, has exhibited in galleries and art shows across the country. Her cards, gift books, and calendars have been sold internationally. She and Phyllis Root have collaborated on several books. This is her first book on Minnesota's Native Wildflowers.

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