Wildflower fans search for signs spring's sprung 'Die-hards' brave chill in Carney park

April 19, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

CARNEY -- Defying the lingering winter weather wasn't easy, but a group of determined wildflower watchers spent yesterday afternoon hunting for specks of color among the grays and browns in Krause Memorial Park.

They were so hungry for signs of spring, they even ate a few of their finds -- chives, violets, white mustard and winter cress.

But the cold days have slowed most of the flowers and trees from showing their true colors.

"We had more winter in March than we had in the winter," said Mary Scott of Ruxton, one of the seven people who showed up for the wildflower hike.

The pink lady-slippers are about two weeks behind schedule, still hiding inside their green spike of a stem, said Kirk Dreier, a park naturalist from Oregon Ridge Nature Center.

"It's just us die-hards here today," Ms. Scott said.

The tour started among weeds that were actually five or six types of wildflowers, starting with a clump of delicate violets, a rich source of vitamin C, Mr. Dreier said.

"If you didn't have your orange juice in the morning, you could come out, take your violet and. . ."

He ate one and persuaded 10-year-old Brian Wilson of Finksburg to have a taste, too. Brian had come with his grandfather, Tom Pfeiffer of Front Royal, Va.

Mr. Pfeiffer had a small thermometer hanging from the zipper tab his parka. It registered 50 degrees.

Most of what the group saw yesterday at Krause could be found in their own backyards, Mr. Dreier said. Certainly they'd find dandelion, which gets its name from the French for lion's teeth, referring to the jagged leaves.

But the royalty of the wildflowers, one not likely to be found in the average backyard, was definitely the lady-slipper, which many people try to dig up and transplant to their gardens.

It never works because the flower relies on a complex root system and fungus, Mr. Dreier said.

"If you pick them, they will die," he said.

The delicate flowers have only a small window of opportunity to bloom and soak up sunshine.

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