Monday, May 5, 2014

Episode 212 (5-5-14): Timing and Cues are Keys to Flowers of the Forest--Musically by No Strings Attached and Biologically by Woodland Plants

Click to listen to episode (3:10)


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of May 5, 2014.
This week, we feature a Blacksburg- and Roanoke-based musical group’s version of a traditional Finnish waltz tune, named for a plant community that, like good music, depends on the right timing.  Have a listen for about 30 seconds.


You’ve been listening to part of “Flowers of the Forest,” by No Strings Attached, on their 2003 CD, “Old Friend’s Waltz,” from Enessay Music.  Just as in a well-done waltz, timing is crucial for low-growing, spring-blooming forest plants.  Such plants live under trees whose leaf canopy will close by late spring, blocking much of the sunlight and rainfall from reaching the forest floor.  As a result, many non-woody forest plants are adapted to take advantage of early spring’s interaction of warming soil and air temperature, available moisture, increasing light, and the activity of emerging insect pollinators to reproduce and to store enough energy underground to survive the coming year.  Bloodroot, Spring Beauty, Trillium, and many other Virginia woodland plants follow this strategy: show up early, use colorful flowers to show off for foraging insects, and then settle back into the moist forest floor.

Thanks for No Strings Attached for permission to use this week’s music, and let’s end with about 20 more seconds of “Flowers of the Forest.”


For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 5/5/14]

Trillium (blooming) and several spring wildflower species in sunlight on a forest floor prior to tree leaf-out, Blacksburg, Va., May 3, 2014.

Shooting Star population beside a woodland stream, Blacksburg, Va., May 3, 2014.

Trillium in light and shadow at the base of a Tulip Tree, Blacksburg, Va., May 3, 2014.

“Flowers of the Forest” and “Old Friend’s Waltz” are copyright by No Strings Attached and Enessay Music, used with permission.  More information about No Strings Attached is available from their Web site,

Information on Mets√§kukkia,” the original Finnish tune on which No Strings Attached’s “Flowers of the Forest” was based, was taken from Andrew Kuntz’ “The Fiddler’s Companion,” online at; and from Jeremy Keith’s “The Session” Web site, online at

Information on Virginia forest wildflowers and their connections to water and other environmental conditions was taken from the following sources:
*“Spring Wildflowers: Ecological Factors,” by Marion Lobstein (undated), published by the Botanical Society of Washington [D.C.], online at  (Marion Lobstein is a retired biology professor at Northern Virginia Community College-Manassas; more information about her is available online at

*“Pollination Ecology of the Spring Wildflower Community of a Temperate Deciduous Forest,” by Alexander F. Motten, Ecological Monographs (Vol. 56, No. 1), March 1986, pp. 21-42.

Other sources for learning about Virginia wildflowers and plants include the following:
*The Flora of Virginia Project (project accompanying the 2012 publication of The Flora of Virginia, the first comprehensive manual of Virginia plants published since the 1700s), online at

*A series of wildflower guides by Oscar W. Gupton and Fred C. Swope: Fall Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987); Wild Orchids of the Middle Atlantic States (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986); Wildflowers of Tidewater Virginia (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1982); and Wildflowers of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1979).

*Virginia Native Plant Society, online at

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