In a normal spring tent caterpillars would have constructed gauzy tents in the cherry trees just before the leaves unfurled. This year I haven’t seen any tent caterpillars and we’re already at “Full Leaf”(*) in Schenley Park. Did our unusually cold spring kill them?
The absence of tent caterpillars affects birds, especially yellow-billed and black-billed cuckoos who rely on them as a food staple. Perhaps the absence of tent caterpillars explains why cuckoos are scarce this year.
Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) is a Eurasian perennial in the poppy family that’s blooming now in Schenley Park. Though it resembles our native celandine-poppy it’s not as particular about habitat. It can be invasive.
To be sure it’s in the poppy family, break a leaf. Greater celandine has orange latex sap.
Don’t put the evidence in your pocket. The “orange juice” can leave a stain.
April 19-25 was another good week for beautiful flowers and new leaves in southwestern Pennsylvania. Check the captions on my photos for species, date and location. Thanks to John English for the white violet from Frick Park.
BONUS! There’s mystery plant to identify at the end. Yes, it’s probably an alien.
In Frick Park yesterday, John English found white violets.
Mystery plant shown below. … By the way, thank you for your suggestions regarding the iNaturalist app. I don’t use it to identify things because I get sucked into email/messaging when I use my cellphone outdoors. There’s a side benefit, though. You have a puzzle to solve.
Question: Can you tell me what plant this is? I photographed these new leaves at Boyce-Mayview Park because I love their wrinkled texture. They remind me of an invasive ornamental shrub called Jetbead which is currently blooming in Schenley Park but this shrub has no flowers. Please leave a comment with your answer.
ANSWER! This is Viburnum plicatum otherwise known as Snowball bush. It’s from Japan. Thank you, Dianne Machesney.
On my solitary walks during the COVID-19 shutdown I find more and more beauty as Spring comes to Pittsburgh. Here are a few of the flowers and trees that bloomed this week. See the captions for species, location and date.
Frost damage: Yellow buckeyes are some of the earliest trees to leaf out but they pay a price if the temperature falls below freezing as it did this week. The early leaves are wilted on this yellow buckeye in Schenley Park.
And finally, a mystery flower in a waste place in Schenley Park. I think it’s an alien. Can you tell me what it is? (Newcomb’s: 4 petals with alternate, toothed leaves). ANSWER: Thanks to Dianne Machesney. This is Field Pennycress and yes it’s an alien.
Spring keeps coming to Pittsburgh in fits and starts. In the last week we’ve gone from +22 F degrees above normal (29 March) to -3 F degrees below normal (31 March) and yet the flowers and leaves keep coming.
To illustrate I took two photos of the same sedge in Schenley Park. The buds on 27 March burst open two days later in 77 degree heat.
Leaves are starting to pop, too. Yellow buckeyes (Aesculus flava) have their first leaves …
… and these reddish, toothed, compound leaves are opening on shrubs along West Circuit Road in Schenley Park. It’s a cultivated alien I can’t identify.
There are also flowers in the trees: Northern magnolia, crabapple buds, blooming (invasive) Callery pear, and flowering cherry.
I am so grateful that Schenley Park is still open.