Casey introduced me to this location early in the spring. This is Blanchard Springs in Stone County, Arkansas. With an average daily flow rate of ~10 millon gallons per day, it doesn’t fall near the top ten of the fantastic and popular springs found in southern Missouri. However, this amount of water finding its way through a limestone rock face and plunging ten feet or more makes this a spectacular spring indeed!
It is always nice finding your targets on a big photography trip but the icing on the cake is finding the unexpected. That is what happened here when Casey and spent some time at Moro Bay State Park in southern Arkansas. When speaking to a very friendly park ranger, he let us on to where a pair of these birds setup territory and were virtually oblivious to humans. These birds completely ignored us as they flew to and from their favorite perches, often flying mere feet over our heads. We watched the male handoff their insect prey a number of times and even witnessed a copulation, but those photos were ruined by branches.
Casey and I ran into a number of spiderworts in forests, glades and prairies across Arkansas and southern Missouri during our trip in May. Although Casey did his best in identifying the plants as we came across them, my field note taking can often leave a lot to be desired and I didn’t record which photo was which plant. With approximately ten species of Tradescantia in this geography plus a few known hybrid situations as well as multiple flower colors possible in some species, identifying these just by closeup photos of the flowers would be challenging even for the experienced botanist. So, I am satisfied just to focus on the forms, colors and insect interactions of these flowers as seen in these photos.
This has me thinking about the possibility of sending in my 5D mk iv into Canon to have the conversion that enables voice notes recording. I used this a couple times when I had the 1D mk iv and think it would be useful during these trips where we are hurrying from plant to plant and location to location and I realize I left my pen and notebook in the car or at home, or am simply to lazy too use them.
This fantastic little one is the western daisy (Astranthium ciliatum) that we found at Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area. In the xeric, shallow soils of the barrens this daisy was single-stemmed and and no more than 6″ off the ground. If only they would behave like this in the home garden! Their range is centered in Oklahoma and Arkansas although they can be found in southwestern Missouri. These were beautiful little plants and rank up with my favorites in the family.
Casey and I found this gorgeous little bean at Middle Fork Barren Natural Area in Saline Co., Arkansas and was photographed on May 11, 2021. There are two varieties that this could be: Astragalus distortus var. distortus, or Astragalus d. var. englemannii. We did not take the necessary measurements in the field to determine which variety this was.
This was a beautiful little barren with a lot of slate outcrops. The soils are very shallow and poor and results in dwarf plants that really “behave” themselves. Most plants we came upon were much smaller than their average at the time of flowering.
I have one more lady’s slipper orchid to share this year. I cannot count this one for my Missouri orchid list, but it is one hell of a slipper. The Kentucky lady’s slipper (Cypripedium kentuckiense) has the largest bloom of any in the Cypripedium genus and has nice diversity in colors and patterns. This is an orchid of the southeastern U.S. It has not yet been documented in Missouri, but can be found in the contiguous states of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Oklahoma. Casey and I found these with some help in May in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.
Originally described in 2006 as Claytonia ozarkensis, this plant was considered a near-endemic to the Ozarks, being found in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Yatskievych et al. (2013) further defined this form and re-described this as C. arkansana. This species is known from only three counties in Arkansas and is classified as G2, or globally imperiled due to its required specialized habitat. C. arkansana is only found on sandstone bluffs and ledges. An interesting adaptation this plant has required to ensure its offspring remain in this required habitat is by negative phototropism of the pedicle after flowering. As the fruits develop, the pedicle turns away from light so that the seed may be dispersed in the cracks and bluff ledges where they need to germinate.
I want to thank Casey Galvin and John Oliver for helping me find this fascinating plant!
Yatskievych, G., R.J. Evans, and C.T. Witsell. 2013. A reevaluation of the Ozark endemic Claytonia ozarkensis (Montiaceae). Phytoneuron 50: 1-11.
Along the Glade Top Trail looking southward at what I believe are the northern hills of the Boston Mountains. I look forward to exploring more of Arkansas one day.