Saturday, February 27, 2010

Harbinger of Spring

Harbinger of Spring was the featured species in Francis Skalicky's News-Leader column on Thursday.  It's name reflects the fact that it one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the Midwest.  It is also known as "Salt and Pepper" because of its white petals and dark reddish anthers.  Because it frequently grows on the forest floor, it adapts to the otherwise shady environment by blooming as early as mid February, before the trees leaf out and block the sunlight..  The whole story is in the News-Leader.
Many woodland flowers adopt this early blooming strategy.  The term Spring Ephemeral describes plants which grow stems, leaves and flowers, quickly bloom, go to seed and the die back early  in the spring.  The remainder of the year their surface features disappear, leaving roots and rhizomes underground for the rest to the year.  These plants tend to be found in forested areas.  More types of ephemerals can be found int Wikipedia.
The following Spring Ephemerals are found on Bull creek:
  • Spring Beauty
  • Shootingstar
  • Harbinger of Spring
  • Dogtooth Violet (Trout Lily)
  • Hepatica (Liverleaf)
  • Bloodroot
  • Rue Anemone
One final note- The  Harbinger of Spring bulb is edible.  So are beavers, okra and raw oysters, but that doesn't mean I would enjoy eating them.  The Cherokee were known to chew an unknown part of the plant for toothache- it's probably better to see your dentist. 

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