Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Hints of Spring

I heard the first-of-year spring peeper and chorus frog chorus last week, tiny little secretive frogs just cranking out their breeding calls from an abandoned farm pond--no more stocked bass or cattle here, just an amphibian breeding pool these days. Timberdoodles are back in business in that gradient between old field and woodland, or, in more intact systems, glade edges. However, the spate of warm weather we've enjoyed for a few days has left us again, boding well for fire season. It's too early in much of the northern reaches of the Ozarks for even harbinger of spring to flower, that early spring wildflower that inhabits low-lying woodlands (some of the first landscapes to see green growth). Hopefully, we'll dry out again and be able to at least burn off a glade here and there before spring green up and before the snakes come out for basking.

Henbit--that sweet non-native purple mint flower common in agricultural fields-- is flowering throughout the region in fallow fields and yards, along with all the other fun lawn weeds like Veronica comosa and the early mustards. I canvassed a wide glade landscape on the Springfield Plateau yesterday and saw no blooming Drabas, just a few early leaves of false garlic and one basal leaf of a Delphinium. This week's cool and rainy conditions will keep all the fun spring flora underground for a few days more, potentially allowing for good fire conditions.

Spring vegetation (as in aquatic springs) is beginning to green up in our streams. Last year, I missed the flowering period of water willow, that lovely Justicia whose flowers resemble a grass pink orchid, just a pretty little thing that lines the banks of our nicer streams. And I won't miss bloodroot in flower this year, either. Friends in northwest Louisiana are already seeing yellow trout lilies in flower, three days before the equinox. We still have a couple of weeks of March weather in Missouri. Did you know that March is historically the snowiest month in Missouri?


Higgs Boson said...

That's nothing. Down here in Florida it is only March, yet the sprawling urban wasteland already hums with the sound of air conditioners. The swamps -- er, I mean wetlands -- teem with mosquito larvae and alligators. A thriving homeless population festoons the sidewalks, their shopping carts piled high with, well... I am not quite sure what that stuff is. I see their well-worn footpaths disappearing into the brush but am afraid to go in there.

Soon the rains will come, the humidity will climb, and before you know it -- hurricane season!

So take that, you dumb old hillbilly girl.

Allison Vaughn said...

Yeaaahhh, Florida. Ground zero to most exotics in the continental U.S. thanks to lax shipping laws and no customs or quality control in pallets coupled with all that warmth and humidity that tropical pests thrive in. My dad reports from Louisiana that spring lasted two days, blooms gone from redbuds and the heat is already climbing to the point of air conditioner weather. Ick. I'm wearing a fleece tonight, with a sheet over all my porch plants. No greenup here!