Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's Up in April

The mild winter and warm spring have thrown off the normal times for plants to reemerge.  Most of may natives are at least 2 weeks, if not more early this year.  I found that I need to pay attention about how plants are coming along, because if I wait a couple of days I might miss some of the spring ephemerals.  So here are some of the botanical things happening with my native plants during the first two weeks of April.

These Celandine Poppies are heavy spring bloomers

The star of the spring this year are the Celandine Poppies, Stylophorum diphyllum, I planted last year.  The bright yellow blooms were opening at the same time as the foliage was coming out.  In the shady spot I have these in, they continued sporadic blooming all summer.  We'll see if they can keep up that pace this year.

The flowers are as white as
the flowers of Bloodroot.

I nearly missed the blooms on the Twin Leaf, Jeffersonia diphylla.  The incredibly white flowers are only open for a day, fortunately I spotted these at a distance and ran to get my camera.  I would not recommend growing these for the flowers, they don't last long enough, but the foliage is what really makes this a useful garden plant.  The leaves on this plant usually form a mound about 10" tall.  Also this one is growing under the Norway Maple, so it can handle some adversity.

Note the spotted foliage of the Trout Lily
I had to take this photo of the inside of the flower
with its raised petal.

This year I had 3 Trout Lilies, Erythronium americanum, come up, but only one bloomed.  I have these planted in with some tulips, so it is very easy to miss seeing the plant, since the leaves are of similar shape.  The Trout Lily does have subtle spots on the foliage that is the tip off.  Of course the flower is the real give away.  These flowers only last a few of days under normal conditions.

Last year I finally got good germination of Brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba.  It takes a year to get established before it blooms, so I am looking forward to seeing it in action this year.  It has smaller, 'softer' blooms than the more common Rudbeckias.  I took these photos to document the difference between the Brown-eyed Susan and Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta.

The arrow points to one of the three-lobed leaves.
As the plant grows taller this leaf form is harder to find.
Black-eyed Susan leaves are not lobed.  Also,
 you can see the stiff hair no the leaves (hirsute).

I have been trying to get some Woodland Sunflower, Helianthus divaricatus, to try under the Norway Maple for a number of years.  Last year I finally got some started.  The plant grew up to about 18", but did not bloom.  So I thought it was just settling in.  Looking in the area this spring I noted a number of seedlings that I am pretty sure are the sunflower.  So it appears that it has started colonizing already, even without blooming.  This can be a very aggressive plant and so far that looks to be the case.  But under this Maple, that is fine with me.
The form of these sprouts is consistent with Woodland Sunflower
Pennsylvania Sedge, in bloom.

I have also be experimenting with some native sedges, particularly Pennsylvania and Appalachian Sedges, Carex pensylvanica and C. appalachica.  These look pretty similar in leaf, but you can distinguish them by their flowers.  Pennsylvania Sedge blooms in early spring, right after it begins to green up.  Appalachian sedge blooms about a month later, after the foliage is well established.

I'll close with the Low Bush Blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium.  Again, these are in a pretty marginal site, under the Maple.  The plants that are growing the best are the ones getting the most sunlight.  This year the blooming is better, so maybe I'll need to keep an eye out for a berry or two.