This interdisciplinary course is built around the biological and chemical monitoring of Connelly’s Run Stream and a detailed study of its watershed. Students should be prepared for “hands on” outdoor laboratory experiences including frequent visits to the stream in Wildwood Park. Special topics and projects will be included each year depending on student interest and biological issues of local or national significance.
As winter starts to melt away and spring begins to show itself, the first flowers to appear are the spring woodland wildflowers. These plants are flowers that bloom for a very brief interval, often before other flowers have started to bloom. Soon the warm days of spring start to replace the rigidly cold days of winter. The forest floor goes from a deep muddy brown to a bright rich green color. The change is very small at first: the buds on the trees start to show themselves, and the wildflowers start to slowly poke their heads out of the ground. Then, in what seems like over night, the flowers start to bloom. They begin to grow before anything else on the forest floor has appeared. These flowers are called spring woodland wildflowers.
The spring wildflowers are very habitat specific. they grow on the forest floor where they compete with other plants for sunlight and nutrients in the ground. some have very stringent habitat requirements and grow only where soil pH, moisture, and minerals meet there particular needs. Many can never be successfully transplanted. It takes many of them anywhere from several weeks to several years just to adjust to the slightest habitat change. Many grow slowly and produce a limited number of seeds. Therefore, many of the wildflowers die out before they can adjust to a climate or habitat change. Many of the flowers bloom for a very brief time, and then the bloom dies off. Some flowers only bloom for a day; others bloom for a couple weeks. In order to protect these fascinating species, we must preserve their undisturbed, natural habitats.
Wildwood Park is unique in the amazing number of species of woodland wildflowers it holds. Some of the steep slopes in the park have probably never been disturbed. They are too steep for farming and too difficult to timber. Springs, cliffs, the geographical orientation of the hillsides, rich soil and limestone outcrop contribute to the great habitat diversity that creates special niches for many different plant species.
Many people make special attempts to watch the spring woodland wildflowers as they start to bloom. There are many different species of these wildflowers, each one with its own unique adaptations. Some have short stems and their flowers grow low to the ground; some grow tall and bright, showy flowers; and have flowers that can only be seen by looking under the leaves of the plant. Many of them are very rare while others grow in abundance. Some grow like weeds and can be found in the corners of your yard and in the cracks of your sidewalk. the flowers appear in a wide variety of shapes and look incredibly beautiful under the cool spring sun. Spring is all about bright colorful petals glistening form the morning dew and the soft green leaves reaching for the sun.