Not quite yet. Some might say, “But I’ve seen Robins! Aren’t they the harbringers (…where did that word come from?) of spring?” Well, maybe some time in the past but certainly not these days. American Robins are pretty much year-round residents in Ohio now.
“It smells like spring.” Well, a 60 degree day should smell great, but what I’ve also caught a wiff of was the striped skunk. They are one of the earliest mating mammals in Ohio mating February-April. However, they aren’t the only creatures who have love on their mind. A pair of coyotes was seen mating in a residential backyard in Centerville last week. And the Great Horned Owls laid their eggs back in January. Love is in the air to be sure!
Not to be outdone by the animal kingdom, one of the earliest plants blooming in Ohio is the Skunk Cabbage. Looking neither like a skunk or a cabbage Symplocarpus foetidus is a member of the Arum plant family. Sending up a brownish-purple and green spathe-like blooms that smell like, well, something not very nice. Just take a look at the species name: where do you think we get the word foetid from? Stinky!
Tom Shisler, friend of OAGC and site manager of the Wahkeena Nature Preserve south of Lancaster OH, sent this photo today of the skunkies in bloom. In late spring bright green, huge, cabbage-like leaves will spring up next to these odd blooms. If you are out and about in the wetlands or marshy areas you just might spot one of these true signs of spring. Remember: OAGC members get free entrance in to Wahkeena. Be sure to contact Tom to schedule your garden club field trip to visit this valuable natural resource site.
Midwest Native Plant Conference (Bergamo Center, Beavercreek OH) July 8-10, 2011
The Dayton area is very fortunate to again host the Midwest Native Plant Society’s Conference. The society, whose interest is in fostering and educating those interested in native plants and their habitats, has scheduled learned speakers from around the county. Registration opens March 1. Sponsored in part by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the Wild Ones©.