Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wildflowers in February a Sure Sign of Early Spring

Here it is only February and wildflowers are blooming. And yes, I’m talking about here in Maine, not some tropical paradise.

I’m always fascinated by any early-blooming or even early-showing plants. For instance, I revel in my chive bed, because this season’s chives are already trying to grow through snow and ice. Very soon, I’ll nibble on the first garden vegetable of the year, a single stalk of chive.

Daylilies, too, send up the tips of little green leaves. These are usually well up by mid-March and this year should see them coming around even earlier. By the way, these daylily leaf tips make a good green vegetable when boiled or steamed. They represent one of the first wild (or semi-wild) foods of the season.

But today I’m wound up about seeing flowers blooming on a stark, roadside bank. The flowers, I’m sure some of you have guessed, are Coltsfoot and they are the earliest wildflower to bloom, at least to my knowledge.

The roadside bank is so steep that grass can’t be planted there. But coltsfoot seeds, like dandelion seeds, get transported by a little, feathery “parachute.” And when these little parachutes land on anything, they stick to it. When the seeds become wet, they stick even harder and this allows them to germinate on a nearly vertical surface.

What’s more, the embankment is only feet away from the salt water, which means slightly warmer overall temperatures as opposed to inland conditions.

Finally, the bank is south-facing and even now, in February, the soil warms up nicely on a sunny, late-winter day.

So be of good cheer. Spring is surely coming and it looks like it is coming early. 

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