Sunday, February 24, 2013

Spring Forward

Signs of spring abound around me this week. The haze of red maple flowers adorns roadside trees, non-native daffodils nod cheerful yellow heads, and plants all around show signs of change to those that look for it. I walked through the yard yesterday to see what I could find.

Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) flower buds expanding
Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) buds are beginning to elongate and you can see the individual flowers begin to take shape. Leaves come later.

The chokeberry (Photinia pyrifolia) and southern crabapple (Malus angustifolia) are two woody plants that have new leaves already; their flowers will come after the leaves have expanded.
Erythronium umbilicatum

Trout lilies (Erythronium umbilicatum) are emerging from thick leaf blankets. Their spotted foliage appears first. A pair of leaves means the plant is mature enough to bloom. Today's bright sun has opened up this flower; it was just a bud yesterday. Nearby, toothwort foliage (Cardamine angustata) is up.

Fly poison (Amianthium muscitoxicum) foliage is 2 inches up, as fresh and bright green as anyone would hope. Blooms won’t appear until early summer and thankfully the deer will leave this foliage alone (one of my favorite reasons to have this plant).

Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima)

Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) buds are just beginning to reveal the soft purple flower buds. They will expand rapidly now; it is one of the earliest flowers along streamsides.

One of the Carex in the woods has blooms on it already, but it will be mighty lonely until some others join it. As a wind-pollinated plant, it needs company to be successful.
Pieris phillyreifolia

Pieris (Pieris phillyreifolia) is already flowering. The translucent white blooms support early pollinators. The evergreen leaves make a beautiful foil for the early flowers.

Aplectrum hyemale

Plants that are evergreen all winter are still there: evergreen ginger (Hexastylis arifolia and H. shuttleworthii), green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum), cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) and this puttyroot (Aplectrum hyemale).

These are good plants to use if you like to see a bit of green in your shade garden during the colder months. Look for them at native spring plant sales.

Viburnum acerifolium

Not everyone is ready – the buds of this mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) are still tight and will wait for warmer days and longer sunlight hours before they are ready to make their move.

I'm enjoying every plant's awakening in its turn.


  1. Wow, thanks for naming Aplectrum hyemale. I've been seeing a lot of it at our cabin in NC. I learned recently the identity of Tipularia discolor and I wondered about this one also. Thanks, again.

  2. Are toad lilies the same plant as a dogtooth violet? We're trying to identify the plant growing among our trilliums. Thanks!

  3. Dogtooth violet is another name for trout lily (Erythronium) which usually have spotted leaves in pairs or a single leaf. Toadshade trilliums also have spotted leaves, but they usually have 3 leaves (or just a single one if they are young).