Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ozark witch hazel

"Ah! Wait! Stop!" I rudely yelled at my friend driving the enormous truck down the rutted out road. I didn't go to the White River Hills this week to look for Hamamelis vernalis because I've missed seeing it in flower for the past five years. It was utter lagnaippe that my friend drove me along a beautiful bottomland woodland rich with cane and scouring rush alongside an in tact waterway in this highly altered landscape. But I spotted it, immediately, and per la prima volta saw it in bloom. Ozark witch hazel is in bloom down there in the land of calamint, Baptisia australis and enormous smoke trees.

Head into the St. Francois Mountains and you'll find two species of witch hazel: Ozark witch hazel and Hamamelis virginiana, a red-flowering shrub that blooms in late fall into winter. The latter is restricted to the St. Francois Mountains while the lovely one I encountered can be found scattered throughout the Ozarks, though is absent from the far northwestern Ozarks. Check out in tact riparian zones and gravel bars for this harbinger of spring!

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