When the first sign of green starts to appear and the first flowers open their buds, you notice. After a spell of cold, drab winter, flowers are oh-so-welcome! Georgia may not have a very long winter, but it’s winter enough for us. It’s warm enough now to really be outside (maybe even a little too warm), and the earliest of flowers caught my attention this week.
|Bluets (Houstonia pusilla)|
The tiniest of flowers can often be found in the thin edges of the lawn. When I walk down the street, some of the “lawn flowers” that I see are bluets (Houstonia pusilla), field pansies (Viola bicolor), common violets (Viola sororia) as well as some non-native imports: hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), the very similar looking spring draba (Draba verna), and dandelions (Taraxacum officinale).
With the exception of dandelions and common violets, these are annual flowers that rely on good pollination to set enough seed for next year. Thanks to early bees and butterflies, they seem to succeed, so it is good news for the flowers and good news for the insects that needed them.
In the woods, tiny flowers are also sprouting: liverwort (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa), trout lily (Erythronium umbilicatum) and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) are up well before the official start of spring in Georgia. All of these manage to send flower and foliage up through the fading leaves of fall, sometimes piercing straight through a leaf to reach the sun. Nature finds a way, doesn’t it?
|Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa|
Herbaceous plants aren’t the only early bloomers. In the shrubbery department, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are the earliest to bloom. Overhead, red maple flowers (Acer rubrum) decorate far-reaching twigs until they tumble to the ground for us to examine.