Ledge Park was the final park I needed to see on my Dodge County Parks tour, which I forced myself to go on as the county parks naturalist and, now, a newly-appointed Friends of Dodge County Parks board member. I went to all 5 parks within 8 days. In order, I saw Nitschke Mounds, Harnischfeger Park, Astico Park, Derge Park, and now Ledge Park, all since April 28th. I never did take pictures at Derge because, frankly, there isn’t much work I’ll be doing there. I did plan on doing an entry for Harnischfeger still.
I hadn’t planned on going to Ledge Park so soon, but a friend of mine posted pictures she had taken with wildflowers I hadn’t seen yet in any of the the other parks. As I said before, spring ephemerals are fickle, so I had to get out there sooner rather than later.
I was driven to make the trip to Ledge solely for the purpose of photographing Dutchman’s Breeches, which I had never seen in person before. When my friend posted pictures from Ledge she put captions on all of the images describing the plants except for the Dutchman’s Breeches, so I replied to her post with the name. She had, indeed, forgotten the common name of the plant, so the reply was helpful. I thought maybe I’d see a few colonies when I went to Ledge, but they were everywhere! I wasn’t expecting there to be so many of these in the park. One reason for Ledge having a different variety of species from the other Dodge County parks may be because it is near Horicon Marsh, which is a hotbed of diversity. If one stands on the ledge (part of the Niagara Escarpment) he or she has an overview of the marsh.
My friend also posted wild ginger, but I didn’t know that she found that at Ledge. It’s another wildflower I haven’t seen in person before.
I didn’t see the maroon flower at first, but I pushed away some of the leaf matter to find it. The wild ginger grows in large colonies at Ledge, so it’s an interesting sight. You can also see trout lilies in this picture, which also grow in large colonies there (and elsewhere!).
Another flower unique to Ledge was the Large-flowered Bellwort. I was completely unfamiliar with this plant; I had no idea that the blooms were as open as they were going to get! The flowers are very droopy, almost wispy in appearance. It’s hard to understand scale in this image, but these were quite large. There is ginger at the bottom of the image.
I found another “large flower,” the Large-flowered Trillium, only there was no large flower present yet! This one was the closest I found to full bloom. I suspect that I would have been able to see flowers a day later.
This is my final unique find at Ledge, the False Rue Anemone. This took a little effort to identify, as the images in my field guides aren’t clear. One of my field guides says that the False Rue Anemone is taller than the Rue Anemone, which isn’t a helpful comparison if one is unfamiliar with the Rue Anemone as well. The main defining trait, for me, was that the leaflets are three-lobed.
In addition to these I did find Mayapples, Trout Lilies, Bloodroot, and Hepatica (did not verify if the plants were sharp-lobed or round-lobed; I guess I should go back and do that). I also found some Pheasant Back (Dryad’s Saddle) mushrooms, which I thought about posting here, but I think they will get their own post. Now that the Pheasant Backs and the Mayapples are out, morel season will be happening soon.