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It's About Time - March 2014

Equisetum hyemale, Scouring rush
Equisetum hyemale, Scouring rush

March is the month when the valley woodlands begin greening up. Two shrubs, osoberry and snowberry, are the first to give a light green wash to the understory. The osoberry (also known as Indian plum) flowers at the same time as leaf-out but snowberry saves flowering for late spring. My favorite color is spring green, the color of freshly emerged leaves. I am particularly fond of vine maple because its leaves stay this fresh, spring green throughout the summer, especially under a forest canopy. In the open it does get dark green by mid summer but then will turn red in the fall, the best fall color in our area.

Frogs are singing vigorously in ponds and ditches. Egg masses seen in ponds now are either frogs or newts. Both are out courting, breeding and laying eggs. Birds will not begin nesting until the canopy of their home tree leafs-out. Walking around town now is the last chance to see nests from last year in leafless trees. It would be interesting to take careful note to see if the nests are reused this year.

Following the recent ice rain, every big Douglas fir in town had a circle of branches and branchlets around its base. It occurred to me that this is part of the evolutionary adaptedness of this species to occasional snow and ice. Unlike maples, Douglas fir branches are just brittle enough to break off before too much weight builds up to bring the whole trunk down.