Saturday, March 24, 2012


As with several other plants, the warm weather has prompted bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) to emerge and bloom early this year. Last year, the same plants bloomed in the second week of April, which puts this year's flowering a little more than two weeks ahead of schedule. Bloodroot is a distinctive woodland plant. Its wild form has 8-10 white petals arranged around a yellow center; cultivated varieties sometimes have the number of petals doubled, in two rows. The reason for their name is not obvious at first glance. The flower's roots produce a red sap that at times has been used as a dye.

Bloodroot is one of the perennial plants known as spring ephemerals. An ephemeral plant is one with a short life cycle; a spring ephemeral completes its entire life cycle before the end of spring. That means it emerges, blooms, sets seeds, and dies back within a few weeks. This strategy is often used by woodland wildflowers of the forest floor since they can take advantage of the extra sunlight on the forest floor before the trees leaf out.

So what effect will the warm winter and early emergence of plants have on birds? Julie Craves presents some answers to this question in a blog entry for the Rouge River Bird Observatory.