Mar 20 2011

First Day of Spring

Published by at 7:30 am under Phenology,Weather & Sky

Today is the spring equinox when the sun's rays directly strike the Equator and day's length is the same as night's. 

On Friday the warm weather felt like May, but the woods are still brown.  At this time of year even the faintest sign of flowers is enough to get me excited.  Here's a list of hopeful signs I've seen since my last phenology report only five days ago.

  • Robins singing before dawn.
  • Canada geese flying over my house in the city.
  • A northern flicker drumming on the metal floodlight hoods at Magee ballfield. (He's really loud!)
  • Swelling buds make the trees look denser.  The red maples look hazy-red.  Some trees already have tiny flowers.
  • New leaves on bush honeysuckle, an invasive plant that's always first to leaf out.
  • Red-tailed hawks mating.

My daffodils and tulips are pushing up through the leaf litter.  Today I'll be looking for coltsfoot in bloom.

Happy Spring!

(photo of coltsfoot by Marcy Cunkelman)

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “First Day of Spring”

  1. John Englishon 20 Mar 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Cotlsfoot trivia: The Native American name for the plant was ‘Son Before the Father’ because the flowers appear before the leaves. They dried the leaves and crumbled them to a powder that was used as a salt-like seasoning.
    To the early pioneers the leaf resembled the hoofprint of a horse – colt’s foot. The taproot was boiled with sugar to make coltsfoot candy that was considered to relieve hoarseness/sore throats.


  2. Jennieon 20 Mar 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Good info about coltsfoot, John. Signs of spring in my yard include the snow crocuses in bloom, and daffodils not far behind.

  3. Anne Curtison 20 Mar 2011 at 11:07 pm

    The daffodils in the beds at CMU down by Hamerschlag Hall have buds so big they’d already be cut and brightening the house if they were in my garden! Mine, however, are not quite so far along!


  4. Kate St. Johnon 20 Mar 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I found a single coltsfoot flower blooming at Moraine State Park … and a *lot* of skunk cabbage.

  5. Barb Simonon 21 Mar 2011 at 10:06 am

    I know coltsfoot very well as it grows in scrappy places with “moondirt” soil where nothing else will grow, and they were several places in Wilkinsburg when I lived there

    I was looking at a Japanese yew yesterday and it had flowers. The tiniest little things, and they reminded me of ice cream cones. The whole flower, half of it was the back end where the ovary is and the seed is formed and the top end was a hemisphere of anthers and stamens. Just fuzzy looking, as everything about this flower was so small. The whole thing was 3/16th of an inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Of course, later, we will see the very noticeable cherry pink soft berry. I’m thinking that these hardly noticeable flowers must be wind pollinated, as any bee, even some ants, would be gigantic against it.

  6. Marcy Con 21 Mar 2011 at 9:04 pm

    My first coltsfoot this year was easy to remember, our anniversary…3/12…early! Daffodils popped out in color today and have been having honeybees at the snowdrops and crocuses. Glad to see them…I thought coltsfoot was an introduced plant. Says that in the “Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania.” I wanted to use it in my native outdoor garden, but didn’t…

    Kate (or anyone else) going to the Yellow Creek Outing on Saturday? If you are, stop over and see the daffodils…or maybe snow…who knows…it’s March….Let me know and I can have something to warm you up…

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