What, Already?

On Monday, February 20, after a few days of unusually warm weather, Steve and I went for a short hike in the Carderock-Marsden Tract area, sans camera. I didn’t expect to see any flowers except for skunk cabbage, but I kept my eyes open just in case. We saw lots of spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) emerging, but only four flowering. This is early, but not the only time: in 2013 I found a few spring beauties on February 18. Still, mid-March is when they generally start blooming.

We also spotted a few clumps of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) just poking up; one had buds. Early April is typically when they they get going.

It’s been delightfully warm, but no, the show isn’t starting yet. Not really.

I did a little research on one of my favorite websites, timeanddate.com, because despite the recent warm weather, we’ve had some unusually cold days, too. Has this been an abnormally warm winter? Have a look:

December historical average high: 48ºF historical average low: 33ºF historical mean: 41ºF
actual high in 2016: 67ºF (on 12/27) actual low in 2016: 17ºF (on 12/16) 2016 average: 41ºF
January historical average high: 44ºF historical average low: 29ºF historical mean: 37ºF
actual high in 2017: 72ºF (on 1/12) actual low in 2017: 15ºF (on 1/8) 2017 average: 42ºF
February historical average high: 47ºF historical average low: 31ºF historical mean: 39ºF
(as of 2/20) actual high in 2017: 73ºF (on 2/8) actual low in 2017: 24ºF (on 2/10) 2017 average: 44ºF

So yes, it’s been about five degrees Fahrenheit warmer these past two months.

In other news, we found several stands of hibernal leaves from cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) and four leaves of puttyroot (Aplectrum hyemale).

One other plant has started flowering: lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), a particularly troublesome invasive alien.

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skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) [iPhone pic]

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