On my return to Sewanee, I made a trip down Shakerag Hollow to see whether I had missed the blooms of my favorite spring flowers, celandine poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum). These are short-lived flowers, easily damaged by rain, a fragility that somehow makes them all the more compelling.
Most had set seed already, with hairy pods hanging below the leaves.
But a few flowers remained. This is one of the few yellow-flowered species in the spring (in this patch of woods, they are the only one).
Ants play an important part in the life history of this species. The small fruits that fall from the pods have large ant-attracting food packages, elaiosomes, attached to them. The ants drag off the fruits, eat the attractant, then discard the fruit. In this way, the poppy seeds are “planted” in the good fertile soil of an ant waste heap. Thank you, ants.