First Leaves

I’ve been watching carefully and now I’ve seen them.  Our post-winter landscape is dotted with blotches of pale green.  The first leaves! 

What plants are these that sprout first?

In my neighborhood they’re bush honeysuckle, an invasive woody shrub that thrives almost anywhere.  I haven’t bothered to determine the species, there are so many: Amur (Lonerica maackii), Morrow’s (Lonerica morrowii), Tartarian (Lonerica tartarica) and more.  All of them, alas, are invasive.

Non-native plants often thrive because they’re out of synch with our seasons.  They’re the first to produce leaves and the last to drop them because they’re responding to the amount of daylight in their place of origin.  Bush honeysuckles come from Asia, Turkey and southern Russia so they open their leaves just after the spring equinox, at least a week ahead of our wary native plants.  They’re not hurt by being early because they’re hardy enough to survive a late frost or snowstorm.

Knowing all this, I should be upset that the bush honeysuckles are leafing out.  But I can’t help it. 

We have leaves!

(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

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