Monday, April 13, 2015

Phenology: Various Violets

The big phenology news this week is that, although a warm January and bitterly cold February altered the normal timetable on which leaf and flower buds open, we finally have dogwoods and redbuds blooming...just one week after Easter Sunday. (According to folklore, they're supposed to bloom during the week before Easter.)

We've been having mild, pleasant weather, with overnight lows occasionally dipping below the freezing point but not for long enough that anything's actually freezing. (The last time I came up here to get online, I walked nineteen miles of the way home in a T-shirt. Chilly, not cold.)

There's a section of the not-a-lawn at the Cat Sanctuary that used to blossom, at this time of year, in blue violets. For some reason it's started blossoming in white violets. Research conducted last year showed that these are two distinct species, one of which has displaced the other over time. I bog down in the specifics of identifying violet species, but on the road to the computer center this morning I found these four violets blooming on one half-mile strip...

Note the different shapes of the leaves, as well as the different shadings of the flowers. What the cell phone camera does not clearly show is that violet #1 is white with blue-violet at the center, and violet #2 is uniformly pale blue. Also, violet #3 is not much bigger than violet #4, in real life, but is a much brighter shade of violet-color. I believe these are four distinct species, and the ones in my not-a-lawn are a fifth species. Violets are edible in moderation; I strayed off that unpaved road a few yards and taste-tested a few, and found that although they all taste like violets--sort of lettucey--each species also has a slightly different flavor.

Bidens are starting to pop up as well. And dandelions...the Cat Sanctuary didn't have dandelions for a few seasons, because the cat Iris used to eat the flowers, but this year we have dandelions galore.