Spring Flowers Tell All
This has been an interesting winter. Or is it spring? None of us can remember a warmer February. A late February hike in Chicopee Woods tells an interesting story.
Every year Elachee's staff members watch eagerly for the first blooms of hepatica (Hepatica americana), our earliest blooming wildflower. It is followed closely by bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). It is a point of pride to be the first staff member to spot either of these flowers in bloom!
This beginning to 2017, things have gotten a little turned around. The hepatica is blooming, but not in the abundance we are used to seeing. Perhaps last summer’s brutal heat and drought have taken a toll.
The Gainesville area remains under severe drought conditions according to the National Weather Service. Soil moisture is low, and this becomes very obvious as you walk along our dusty trails. It remains to be seen how this will affect the spring wildflowers. We have continued to watch eagerly for the emergence of the first of the bloodroot plants, but no one has spotted them yet.
Meanwhile, all along the Ed Dodd Trail you can find toadshade trillium (Trillium cuneatum) in bloom. These beautiful spring wildflowers are among the most numerous in Chicopee Woods and the inspiration for the name of our spring trail run and walk, Trillium Trek. In this crazy year of no winter, the trillium has jumped ahead of the hepatica and bloodroot in bloom time. Even the later blooming nodding trillium (Trillium rugelii) has sprung up, though it is not in bloom yet.
We can only surmise that some plants are on a calendar schedule that is unaltered by yearly climate differences, while others respond to warm temperatures by blooming before their usual time.
Come take a hike in Chicopee Woods and see these and other spring beauties. Despite our continuing drought, we have faith in Nature’s resilience and the hardiness of our native plants. The woods await!
Elachee Nature Science Center's 12 miles of pristine hiking trails throughout the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve are open free to the public daily from 7 a.m. to sunset. PLAN YOUR VISIT to Elachee.