Monday, March 19, 2012

Coltsfoot blossoms

What: First coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) blossoms of the year. Along with all the other harbingers of spring, this always signals the regreening of the ground (maybe the end of sugaring, too?). The flowers come up first and look similar to dandelion flowers. Note, however, the leaflets ringing the stalk and lack of leaves.

Ecological notes: Like dandelions, they have perennial roots, which allows them to sprout earlier in the year. They also spread vegetatively (by roots) so I find them in dense clusters. The leaves will come up in a few weeks. Not sure if these jumped the gun with all that warm weather. It's 19 degrees as I write this.

Where: Look for coltsfoot growing in gravely ditches, sandy streambanks and other "waste places." I found this beautiful specimen growing alongside Pond Rd in Shelburne while looking for amphibian sign.

Other notes: The subtle flowers were easily overlooked while searching for amphibians. We heard a few spring peepers peeping in the 80 degree heat (record high). Plus we saw lots of Eastern Newts swimming in the shallows and heard muskrats making their whining mating noises.

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