Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Flowers: Pussy Willows and Maples


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!

14 comments:

  1. You got a two in one picture with that black bird sitting on the budding willow! The weather report is promising us a high of 17 tomorrow ... if it really happens, that should make big inroads in the snow melt!

    Glad to hear you are experiencing so much spring.

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  2. Yay, pussy willows always make me feel as if spring has arrived! I remember my fifth grade teacher used to put a vase of them up in front of our class.

    Laurie

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  3. Lovely Spring Scenes!!

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  4. Yesterday I worked our garden beds - nice to get out again - lots of big yummy worms (for the birds!).

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  5. I love pussy willows, they make me feel all fuzzy (no pun intended) and warm inside. We are suppose to hit 70F this weekend, a big contrast from last Sundays high of 39F.

    It is a little worrisome though, since almost all our water comes from snow pack there is tremendous worry about flooding from a quick melt.

    Still, I am more then ready for Spring!

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  6. I'm looking forward to my first spring into summer following the wonderful photos on your blog.

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  7. So lovely to hear about the spring finally arriving up your way Ruth!

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  8. Ruth--you may wonder if your post on pussy willows (and mention of the medicinal qualities) inspired me.
    In fact, when I read your post last night, I suddenly remembered our long ago trip to Plimouth Plantation, and my conversation with the physician on site. So, I sat down and wrote it out. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  9. Hooray for spring and its arrival in Ontario, Ruth!

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  10. Oh yes, we have had a loooooong winter. Pussy willows! Loved your photos. We also have snow in our yard (both front and back). It's been cold in Quebec, but warmer days ahead.

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  11. Glad that the spring along with the warmer weather has come your way.-I know you've been anxious for it.-I never knew those facts about the pussy willow-thanks.

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  12. I've yet to find a 'real' pussy willow in bud like this - only the cut ones in the grocery store.

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  13. CS- I didn't even notice that I got the pussy willow until I downloaded the picture.

    AfricaKid- I appreciate my teachers who had an interest and enthusiasm for nature. I hope teacher still put pussy willows on their desks.

    April- Thanks.

    Jean- My garden isn't quite ready to work yet, but soon...!

    Jaspenelle- We have had lots of flooding this year. But the dams and reservoirs on the river shed do help.

    FM Doc- There is something new to share every day now. Spring is coming on quickly, making up for lost time.

    Jayne- And it is lovely to write about something other than snowstorms :-)

    KGMom- I will look forward to your next post.

    Ruthie- And hopefully it is here to stay in Minnesota too.

    Wendy- Thanks for visiting and commenting. I will have to check to see how you are doing in PQ!

    Larry- You are right...I was anxious for spring. I didn't know much about pussy willows either until I researched them this week.

    Laura- Maybe you are too far south for them. They are abundant here in swampy areas.

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  14. Great signs of the times. I saw a number of red-winged blackbirds while driving around yesterday.

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