Friday, March 16, 2012

Blooming Shrubs

A look at some common Blue Jay Barrens shrubs showed only one species to be in full bloom.  The Hazelnut, Corylus americana, is covered with flowers, but the small size of the bloom makes it nearly impossible to notice.

Hazelnut is one of those plants that produces separate male and female flowers.  The long male flowers, called catkins, are produced in the fall, but don’t mature until early spring.  When the scales of the catkin pull back and the color lightens to a pale green, the female flowers should be present.

Like many of our native shrubs, Hazelnut grows in the forest understory and effectively blends with its surroundings.

Buds of the Fragrant Sumac, Rhus aromatica, have not yet begun to enlarge.  It would not be surprising to see some of these flowers emerge within the next week.

Fragrant Sumac commonly grows at the edges of small openings or fields.  The blooms produce an abundant supply of nectar and are visited by a wide variety of insects.

Buds of the Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, are just beginning to swell.  The buds look to have suffered very little winter damage this year.  Hopefully, weather conditions will continue to support a good flower show.

All of the Flowering Dogwood branches are loaded with flower buds.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen such a good prelude to the flowering season.

Redbuds are pushing out from beneath their protective scales.  Blooming of the Redbuds coincides with the emergence of the Henry’s Elfin butterflies.  The tiny butterflies will mate and then lay their eggs on the young Redbud blooms.  The size of the Blue Jay Barrens population of this uncommon butterfly tends to fluctuate along with the success of the Redbud flowers.

Flowers of the Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, are not far from emergence.  That’s a leaf bud tucked in between the developing flowers.  I’ll be back later in the year to examine the leaves for larvae of the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly.

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