Tom's Blog

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First flowers of the year

It's always nice to see the first flowers of the year. This gives one faith that spring will really come!

Early buttercup is almost always the first plant we see in flower. This tiny buttercup never grows more than a few inches high, but it often blooms prolifically. Where we usually see it first is on our woods road. The reason it shows first here is that we mow this road, thus keeping the vegetation low, so the buttercup isn't shaded out. Since it has a very short flower stalk, and leaves appressed to the ground, mowing doesn't hurt it.

The other early flowering plants are the spring ephemerals, of which bloodroot is one of the first. This appeared in one of our shady savannas that we had burned last fall. The ephemerals in the savannas we burned only 6 days ago are still black and barren. It will take at least another week before we will start to see any flowers there.

Other species that I have seen already are only in the vegetative state. They include shooting star, pale Indian plantain, compass plant, columbine, and early meadow rue. More will be along shortly.

Unfortunately, garlic mustard is also showing itself now. We don't have a lot of this awful invasive, but we are determined to eradicate what we do have, so today we sprayed those plants visible. The spray we used was a combination of 2% Roundup and 1% 2,4-D. The latter is a good thing to add, because garlic mustard is very sensitive to it and starts to curl up in about 3 days. Roundup also works but takes a lot longer to show its effect. By adding 2,4-D, we get quick evidence that we did't miss any plants.

Those who control garlic mustard are probably aware that a single spraying is not enough, as plants continue to flush for weeks during the spring. We usually return to any known patches three times, or at least twice, and then return in early June to hand pull any plants missed by the spraying.


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