Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring at Last

Glade cress- Linda Ellis
I am finally pronouncing it spring.  Time to put up the firewood and start getting into the woods.  It was officially spring as indicated by the vernal equinox on March 20th, the day when the sun is at zenith over the Equator.  The date was first officially proclaimed as March 25 by Julius Caesar, but who is going to argue with an emperor?  Last week I thought that spring would never come, but now it has reached 70 degrees and April showers are passing through.

Glade Cress
I am ignoring Julius and going with Linda Ellis who proclaims the arrival of spring botanically.  She sent this picture of a glade cress, Leavenworthia uniflora, her first spring find while out hiking on her glade a few weeks ago.  It grows mostly in the Ozarks and has a very short growing season in March.  The single flower head is oversized compared to its dramatically long stalk as seen in this photograph.

Linda found a trout lily, Erythronium americanum, that same day.  It is another March bloomer, two green leaves usually with dull purple blotches support a single long stalked flower with lanceolate (lance-like) yellow petals.  Hers were on a glade which receives the sun's warmth far earlier than our deep valley where we still hadn't seen the leaves come up for another week.  Finally they have proclaimed spring in the valley.

Trout lily- Mark Bower
Traditionally, trout lily bulbs and leaves were eaten, either raw or cooked. The plant was also used in folk medicine to heal ulcers, as a mild emetic and antibiotic before those existed.  It was also used as a folk contraceptive.  After several unplanned children, this might have led the "folk" to the saying "hope is not a method."

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