This past winter, I bought the Peterson First Guides: Wildflowers at the Williamsport Visitor Center, and it’s a great little tool for identifying the many wildflowers along the C&O Canal. One of the more common–and interesting–of the flowers is Dutchman’s Breeches. This plant blooms in April and May, and it is aptly named because it resembles an upside-down pair of pantaloons.
In all, we were able to identify nine different wildflowers, and the rarest of the lot was the Trout Lily (also known as Adder’s Tongue). It is easily identifiable because of the heavily mottled (brown and green) leaves at the base of the plant. Candee pretty much had to lay down on her stomach to get this shot, and it’s definitely my favorite among the many flowers we were lucky enough to see.
The Spring Beauty was literally all over the place between the Sideling Hill Creek Aqueduct and Little Orleans. This plant comes in a white and pink variety, and it is easy to identify because of two grass-like leaves about halfway up the stem. It is occasionally confused with the Carolina Spring Beauty, but the latter variety has a much wider leaf.
In fact, I found that wildflowers are more easily identified by the leaves than the petals. A good example of this is the Bloodroot, which has a very unique leaf.The Bloodroot has a 6-10″ stalk and a stem that emits an orange-colored juice when broken. In all, checking out wildflowers is an interesting hobby that goes well with a hike on the towpath. Hopefully, we can hit the trail again while the many wildflowers of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal are still in bloom.