Mother’s Day Hike | Ryerson’s Woods

by Melanie and Jim

After our early morning breakfast, we drove across town to Ryerson’s Woods. It was acquired by Iowa City in 1985. The park has about 50 acres and includes less than a mile of trails. Last time we visited was in mosquito season. We got a short distance into the trees and ran back to the car with several bites each. This time there were no mosquitoes.

We met two men and their dogs who were on the way out. The men were chatty. One dog reminded us of the Good Dog, Carl. The children’s book series about Carl is wonderful. We saw only two other people from afar.

There is a bit of up and down in the park, but the trail is well maintained with mulch under foot. Clean-up of fallen trees needs to be done in a few places, but the path was only blocked in one spot, and we climbed over easily.

As the park name implies, it is a wooded site. The ground vegetation struggles in many places to capture sunlight. Even so, it is lush and dense with green, as well as with wildflowers.

We saw a lot of Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema triphyllum plants in many different sizes. Most were about a foot tall. There were a few two feet tall and shaded a red color.

There were May Apples Podophyllum peltatum all over the place. Many had beautiful flowers under the broad leaves. The flowers were about two inches wide. The plants are a little more than a foot tall. We had to pull back leaves to get these pictures.

This White Baneberry Actaea pachypoda was growing on a hillside in dim lighting. Some camera shake blurred it. But the Wild Geranium Geranium maculatum posed gracefully together in sunlight. Thanks you two.

White Baneberry | Actaea pachypoda

Wild Geranium | Geranium maculatum

The author of Bleeding Heartland has a series called Wildflower Wednesdays. She posted information on Virginia Waterleaf Hydrophyllum virginianum. Description of habitat for these flowers matches the habitat where we found this one. It prefers partial sun to light shade, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and a rich loamy soil with decaying leaves.

Virginia Waterleaf | Hydrophyllum virginianum

When we finished the short loop trail, we considered for a moment turning around and taking it the other direction. However other plans for the day took priority. We left with a more pleasant memory of the park than the mosquitoes, and a very good beginning to the day.


9 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Hike | Ryerson’s Woods

  1. BJ

    As usual great nature photos let me enjoy a bit of your exploring. Glad to have the link to Google Ryerson Woods location. Easy to find with the Johnson County Fairgrounds near. Mennonite sale on Memorial Day weekend in years past took me there. Tasty homemade bread, pie, etc along with handmade goods to view/appreciate.

    1. Jim R Post author

      I’m glad that map link was helpful. Some people in the area might not be aware of it. It is a gem.

      Yes, those sales are great. Good cooking and crafts. Maybe this year you can come to the sale and arrange to visit us, too. Melanie would be up for that, I’m sure. 🙂

      1. BJ Good

        I “penciled-in” on calendar. June is busy with visitors or visiting. I am familiar with the church. In-laws were members & I’ve done weddings & funerals in that space. Would be interesting to come into it for the quilt show.

  2. shoreacres

    What a nice variety of plants. I remember the jack-in-the-pulpit, but the others aren’t familiar — although I have heard of May apple. When I was living in Iowa, wildflowers weren’t at all interesting to me, and our family didn’t spend any time in the woods, so I’m not surprised I haven’t seen these. I’ve tried to remember whether we spent any time identifying plants when I went to summer camp, but I don’t think we did.

    The Virginia waterleaf is magnificent. Poor Texas — we don’t have a single species of that genus.

      1. shoreacres

        Of course. Beyond that, Texas itself is so large, and its ecosystems so varied, that what I enjoy here on the coast is often quite different from what I see in the hill country. As a matter of fact, on a recent trip to the area north of Fredericksburg, I was able to identify twenty new (to me) species. I’m still working on the ones I couldn’t identify.

        1. Jim R Post author

          Iowa isn’t nearly as large. But, we have a wide diversity spread between the corners. All of it interesting no matter where you are.

  3. underswansea

    Wonderful post! Looks like everything is growing great. I don’t think we have any of those wild plants here. Nice excursion!


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