Warm winter speeds up spring for some plants

I'm just jotting a brief note to mention some unusual sightings made by myself and others recently. Aside from the fact that people have been seeing a Cooper's hawk this winter, there's also been a peregrine falcon around, both of which have been more than a bit disturbed by the presence of a great horned owl. Along with the crows, they've been pretty vocal about it. So keep your eyes and ears open for them if you visit Jarvis this winter.

At our workday last Saturday (Jan 28th) we noticed that snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) were up already and in bud, and scilla AKA Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) leaves were also appearing. Both of these species are common ornamentals and very early bloomers, but are really "pretty weeds" in a natural area like the Sanctuary. What is unusual is that this is at least a month before we usually see them appear.

I didn't think about it at the time, because we were mostly working in a different area, but there is one native plant that isn't far behind these two in making it's first appearance each spring and that's skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).

skunk cabbage flower So I went back Friday afternoon (Feb 3rd) to check. I was hoping I wouldn't see it yet, but there it was, the tips of the spathes poking up through the unfrozen soil. At this rate, is all the spring flora going to be done flowering before Mother's Day, a traditional day to talk a walk and look at all the wildflowers? We'll see.

IMAGE: William C. Taylor @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1989. Midwest wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. Midwest National Technical Center, Lincoln. From The PLANTS Database (4 February 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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