Plants and Animals
Species of Concern: Ozark Wake Robin
- Common Name: Ozark Wake Robin
- Scientific Name: Trillium pusillum, var. ozarkanum
- Range: Ozark region of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma
- Classification: Imperiled due to scarcity
- To learn more about endangered species: explore the links listed below.
Wildflower fanciers readily recognize this as one of Missouri’s seven species of the distinctive wildflower trillium. Like its more common relative, snow trillium (Trillium nevale), Ozark wake robin starts with white petals. As it ages, its blossoms gradually turn pink. It exists in isolated populations in southern Missouri. One is in a residential front yard that is mowed regularly. Another is beneath a water tower. Ozark wake robin’s apparent adaptability makes its spotty distribution difficult to explain. One factor may be the plant’s reliance on ants to spread its tiny seeds. This limits the distance it can disperse and establish new populations. Ozark wake robin had special significance to legendary Missouri botanist Julian Steyermark, author of the Flora of Missouri. Cora Shoop discovered a population of the plant in Barry County in 1930, and Steyermark recognized it as a species new to science. She showed him where it grew, and romance blossomed. Shoop eventually became Mrs. Julian Steyermark.
The birds of spring are on their way.
March and April are the best months to enjoy warblers. Males sport fresh breeding plumage of breathtaking hues. Trees give the best clues to when migrants will arrive. Warblers need caterpillars and other insect morsels that appear with foliage. Tender leaves and buds draw waves of hooded, parula and magnolia warblers, redstarts and other members of the clan northward in mixed flocks. Use recordings of their songs to help identify birds only glimpsed in distant treetops or not at all.
Come see a play featuring Cyrano De Bird-gerac.
March is the month to see the mating ritual of a bird too consumed by romance to be self-conscious about its comically large nose. Male woodcocks (aka “timberdoodles”) emerge from tangled stream-side thickets at dusk to strut their stuff on patches of bare ground. During this nuptial dance, they serenade their lady loves with what is arguably the least musical song ever uttered. Their nasal “peents” sound much like a nighthawk’s call. This done, they take flight, climbing in wide spirals with their flight feathers twittering like fairy wings. This aerial display takes them to dizzying heights—often beyond human sight. Then they tumble back to earth, pulling up a few feet before reaching the spot where the show began.