Wintertime Blues, Wintertime Greens

What's green in dreary February? Quite a bit, actually. Unlike spring and summer, however, to find green leaves you have to scratch around in the duff, mumble alot, and generally act like someone desperate for the growing season to start up...

Then, when you find something, you have to scratch your head, mumble some more, then act like you actually remember last growing season and what things like plants are called.

Rachel and I took a short hike out from the house in search of any greenery that could be found this chilly afternoon.

We hooked around behind the pond, followed the outflow stream into the older riparian woods, then looped up onto the lane and circled back home. Here's what I saw; Rachel will give her own tally.

Lots of sedges and confusing basal leaves demand the disclaimer: don't depend on my cold-addled brain getting all of these right!

I think this is a pussytoes (Antennaria sp.).


Partridgeberry AKA Mitchella repens. Here, happily rooting into some cushion moss. One "partridgeberry" still hangs on in the background. This is a good illustration of why the fruity flesh of native propagules contain germination inhibitors - it's almost spring, and those seeds are not in a good place to germinate until someone comes along and eats that berry! Partridgeberries taste a little on the bland side but they're little charmers nevertheless.

I didn't bother photographing some of the invasive non-natives like japanese honeysuckle (it is the weekend), but I did photograph this little creeper. If I remember aright, I think this is common speedwell -- all too common in our forests, in my opinion-- but more of a weed than a threat to ecosystem integrity.


Who's this fuzzy little cutie? Worst case scenario, maybe a wineberry seedling. Otherwise, perhaps some kind of (three-foiled) cinquefoil?



Christmas fern.


This sedge (some kind of woodland Carex) looks suspiciously like it was nibbled on by a deer doing the same thing I was doing-- looking for any green thing in sight!


Spreading in clumps, this woodland sedge acted a lot like Carex pensylvanica. I didn't see any remarkable reddishness at the base, however, which I've been told is diagnostic.

This wood rush, on the other hand, had a deep wine-red cast to many of its leaves.

More of the wood rush (Luzula sp.). See the long hairs coming off of the reddish leaves?


My best guess on this is some species of Dichanthelium, a genus of grasses that includes Deertongue grass. This one was happily sprouting from the precipice of a small clump of moss in a pretty shady spot.

The basal leaves of some kind of goldenrod.


Not green, but I couldn't resist showing off the beautiful seedpods of Ditch Stonecrop, growing in a wet, somewhat open woods behind the pond.

Not green either, unless you count the mosses (I need to work on those!) Anyhow, someone ate american persimmon here, and left these seeds behind. Too bad it was in too shady a spot for them to grow successfully next year. Mr. Fox was not being a good gardener! I wish them luck in their continued voyage.


The leaf of a young greenbriar. Not much chlorophyll here - more like a relic of the glorious fall.

Curly sedge and straight sedge.

As we walk deeper into the old woods, skunk cabbage lines the floodplain, where wood nettle and cinnamon fern also live.


Spring beauty is ready for spring, and so am I!


This low wet wooded area has cinnamon, interrupted, and royal ferns - an Osmunda full house! Unfortunately, these are only visible as dried husks, whereas this white avens (Geum canadense) is green with just a tinge of winter purple.
Geum canadense is one of the few native herbs I see successfully colonizing young second-growth woods on post-agricultural land - those undraining soils repeatedly churned by the plow and dowsed with chemicals. Must be deer-resistant too.


Spinulose woodfern. See the spines (teeth) at the margins of the leaves. Something of a compatriot to white avens (above), this is one of the few ferns I see recolonizing our depauperite post-ag second growth woods. Maybe it can deal with poorly-drained soils-- it's in a nice little wetland here (the Osmunda full house), not far from a black ash.


The underside of a crowfoot leaf, I think (Ranunculus abortivus), unless it's golden ragwort (Senecio=Packera aureus)


Looks like an agrimony leaf. Didn't totally expect it in this here swamp, but that's what it looks like nevertheless. Agrimonea gryposepala seems to be the common agrimony species around here. Another one of the few brave native herbs commonly found in post-ag second growth. Virginia jumpseed would be a likely companion.


Not so sure about these guys. Spring cress (Cardamine bulbosa?)

We looped back onto the road and headed home. The road cuts through some really rich woods. These beautiful little pipsissewas are among my favorite woodland herbs. They are dependent on some kind of fungal symbiosis for successful germination - just like orchids.

A little Botrychium (Cutleaf Grape Fern), in a patch of moss, middle of the path. These ferns don't seem to mind a little disturbance cutting the competition down to their size every once in a while.


Round-lobed Hepatica. Hepatica's fuzzy flower stalks and blue blooms are a big part of the reason I cherish spring now that I am a country mouse.


Alumroot waiting for the sun.