|Male pussywillow (Salix discolor), 3/21/12|
Now that the dancing in the streets has subsided, I dare reflect on this topsy-turvy spring weather. Last week's hot flash (a record 84º on 3/21) pushed many tree buds into unprotected leaf and bloom, some 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. While some species are equipped to weather the inevitably chilly nights that follow, others are left vulnerable to a chilly backlash.
Several tree and shrub species are typically early bloomers in Concord -- opening in sequence between the vernal equinox and early April, including various willows, silver maple, red maple, American elm, hazelnut, poplar, and sweet gale. . This month these species opened all at once, along with some later flowering shrubs.
It takes little encouragement to pop open the flowers of silver maples, one of spring's first bloomers, but a spring snow shower can leave them looking like a blossom sundaes!
|Male silver maple flowers (Acer saccharinum), 3/14/12 -- Concord River|
|Silver maples become blossom sundaes on 4/1/11|
|Silver maple fruits, 3/30/12|
|Female pussywillow catkins (Salix discolor) -- GMNWR|
|Unidentified pink, male willow catkins|
|Female black willow catkins (Salix nigra) - GMNWR|
|Male black willow catkins (Salix nigra)|
Male American hazelnut flowers bloom in late March -- waggling their golden catkins in unmown uplands and woodland edges, drawing us in to notice their tiny, red pistilate (female) flowers and noticeably hairy stems.
|American hazelnut flowers (Corylus americana)|
Box elder buds are also distinctive at this time, often found at eye-level on saplings in damp, fallow fields. Box elder belongs to the Maple family.
|Male box elder bud (Acer negundo) -- EQF Community Garden|
|Box elder male flowers and new leaves|
Certain introduced and invasive species adapt well to increasingly erratic weather patterns, leafing out with the first warm days. Multiflora rose, honeysuckles, and crab apples are already creating a green haze in the forest understories and edges of Concord's fields, rivers, and roadsides.
|Rosa multiflora beginning its vigorous thorny growth in March|
|Glistening crabapple leaves and sparkling water|
|Male sweet gale flowers, 3/22/12 - GMNWR|
|Female sweet gale flowers (life-sized)|
|Female sweet gale flowers (close-up)|
|Blueberry buds, 3/30/12 -- GMNWR|
|Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), 3/21/12|