NOW is it Spring?

by Carl Strang

There seems to be some impatience in the Eurasian component of our flora. Earlier I documented dandelions blooming in the first week of January. Yesterday I ran across this bit of green at Mayslake Forest Preserve.

Light was poor, so I wasn’t able to get a sharp photo. These are newly expanding leaves in a little clump of tartarian honeysuckle.

All the buds on these 2-foot plants were green. I am guessing that this little tuft of stems has doomed itself. If only all their local congeners would follow suit! There was nothing special I could see about this shrub’s location. It was in a low-quality woodland, and surrounded by other honeysuckles more sensible about the season.

Fruiting Phenology

by Carl Strang

Through the spring I have been introducing wildflowers as they have bloomed at Mayslake Forest Preserve. I record first flowering dates so as to make future comparisons between years. Flower timing is tied to climate. Plants, especially early in the season, are influenced strongly by soil temperature. Phenology, the study of when events occur, is by no means limited to flowers, or even to plants. I record arrival dates for birds, and also fruiting dates of plants whose fruits are consumed by vertebrates. This year the first of these at Mayslake has been a non-native species, the Tartarian honeysuckle.

Tartarian honeysuckle fruit b

The berries are consumed by birds, which disperse the seeds widely, enabling it to become a problem plant in restoration projects. I’ll share other fruits in future installments.

Mayslake Flowers Update

by Carl Strang

At the beginning of May the appearance of new wildflowers on Mayslake Forest Preserve accelerated. In some cases I have not made identifications, yet. For instance, there are a lot of small trees and shrubs in the rose family that probably are various crab apples and hawthorns, but may include introduced (and possibly horticultural) varieties that make identification difficult for a vertebrate ecologist. Among them are this one

Rosaceous small tree 1b

and this one.

Rosaceous small tree 2b

Here is an herbaceous plant flowering in the savanna that I can’t get a handle on, yet.

Mystery plant 1b

Its leaves are dense along the stem and embrace it like those of New England aster, but without the hairiness.

Mystery plant 2b

I suspect it may be in the mustard famiy, and if so should be able to get an identity as fruits appear.

Most new flowers I have been able to identify, though. Abundant swamp buttercups are flowering in the cleared area below the friary.

Ranunculus septentrionalis 2b

They, along with scattered small-flowered buttercups,

Ranunculus abortivus 1b

have joined the early buttercups already flowering there and elsewhere in the savanna. Also on that hill are red trilliums,

Red trillium 2b

yellow violets (there’s a contradiction in terms for you!),

Yellow violet 1b

and wood anemones.

Wood anemone 1b

Not flowering on that hill this year, but another good find, was bloodroot.

Bloodroot Mayslake b

Elsewhere on the preserve, appearances were made by the flowers of Ohio buckeye,

Buckeye b

choke cherry,

Prunus virginiana 2b

wild strawberry,

Strawberry 2b

purslane speedwell,

Veronica peregrina 2b

and golden Alexanders.

Zizia 4b

Non-native species include tartarian honeysuckle,

Tartarian honeysuckle b

shepherd’s purse,

Capsella 3b

and common chickweed.

Common chickweed b

Again, all I am doing for now is establishing local first flowering dates in what will be an ongoing phenology  study. No doubt I will return to some of these species for other future inquiries. For instance, what were all those ants doing on the golden Alexanders flowers?

%d bloggers like this: