Friday, April 9, 2010

Early Spring in the Gorge

Spring has sprung a bit early this year, giving a jumpstart to the growing season. Take advantage of this beautiful weather if you haven't already and get out to the river gorge to see what's popping up! Like...

bloodroot (left) and Dutchman's breeches (below). Spring ephemerals are doing their best to complete their entire life cycle during a very short period of time, after which they will disappear completely under the soil for the rest of the year!

Unfortunately for the spring ephemerals, garlic mustard is also already popping up, and threatening their success by crowding and shading the little beauties out, possibly even changing the quality of the soil. There are several upcoming opportunities to help remove garlic mustard from the river gorge - see our events listing for more details on how you can join the effort.

Very few native shrubs are leafed out right now, though one you might see is Sambucus racemosa (Red-berried elder, below).

Non-native shrubs Tartarian honeysuckle and common buckthorn are leafed out already. Leafing out early in the spring and retaining their leaves late in the fall is one of the major ways in which they are able to out-compete the natives: this longer growing season enables them to do extra photosynthesizing and simply outgrow everything else.

What interesting things have you been surprised to see popping up early this spring?

Photos courtesy of Carolyn Carr.

1 comment:

MJ said...

It sure is great to see things greening up and the flowers blooming. It's so interesting to watch and see which ones come up first in spring.