We set off down the Trillium Trail on the western edge of the Thompson Wildlife Management Aera, and we indeed did find trilliums. In abundance. Heck, you don’t even need to leave the parking lot, if that’s your thing. The species found here is Trillium grandiflorum, which blooms white and fades to pink and purple as it sets seed. Formerly, a patch of Nodding Trillium (T. cernuum) could be found on the property, but no more, it would seem.
Thompson is on the Blue Ridge, southwest of Sky Meadows SP; farther to the southwest, across Interstate 66 and Manassas Gap, is Shenandoah National Park.
Karyn showed us the way to two orchids, the Larger Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens), with its penchant for growing at the end of pipestem trails off the fire road, and the Showy Orchis (Orchis spectabilis), which is showy in comparison only to other members of the genus.
I’m beginning to understand the Avenses (Geum sp.), but these members of the Rose family are still perplexing. One clue that seems to work is that the basal leaves are a darker green, almost like wintergreen. We looked at Carrion Flower (Smilax herbacea), the smilax without thorns. Lots of Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), a mystery boneset not yet in flower, bellworts, two ragworts, Eupatoriums in past and future fruit. Newcomb says that the leaves of Horse Balm (Collinsonia canadensis) smell of citronella when crushed, but Bella noted the even stronger smell of agaric mushrooms.
I tried to avoid the distractions of warbler song. I heard my first Wood Thrush of the year.
When is a violet not violet? When it’s green. And, in fact, the Green Violet (Hybanthum concolor) is not in the same genus with the other violets. Down the fire road where it meets a stream that eventually feeds Goose Creek, we also found Viola trilobata and V. cucullata.