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Friday Flowers: Pussy Willows and Maples

Posted Oct 22 2008 6:13pm

Spring arrived with a bang this week and we have had several days of above average temperatures. We still have some snow in our north-facing front yard but I broke up the last of the ice on the deck yesterday evening. The robins have been pulling worms out of the ground and insects are beginning to fly around. We are sure to get more snow, but it will not last long. With this quick thaw, the rivers and streams are very high. The areas where I saw skunk cabbage flowers at this time last year are completely under water. But the earliest of spring blooms have opened.


The American Pussy Willow (salix discolor) is a native deciduous shrub found in northern forests and wetlands. The flowers are soft, silky catkins which open in early spring before the leaves appear. The Pussy Willow, like all willows, provides a compound called salicin which is similar to the active ingredient in aspirin. Native people extracted it from the bark and roots for a painkiller and anti-fever medication.


On Thursday I saw my first Red Maple ( acer rubrum ) tree in bloom. The flowers on this tree emerge three to four weeks before the leaves open and bring some of the earliest spring colour to the landscape. Each day will bring new growth as dormant plants respond to light and warmth. Nothing will stop spring now!

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