Harbingers of Spring

Spring is springing in the Pacific Northwest. One of the earliest signs of spring is the flowering of the native hazelnut trees, Corylus cornuta. It’s long golden catkins dangle from slender branches and catch the sunlight, lighting up the forest where it grows.

corylus male & female adj

 

Tiny female flowers are housed separately from the long, supple catkin filled with male flowers. The female flowers will mature into tasty nuts. We once watched a pair of magnificent Stellar’s jays methodically harvest every single nut from the tree outside our dining room window. They buried them in the forest floor, much like squirrels do, to preserve them for food in winter.

 

Indian plum

Indian plum

 

Another early sign of spring is the leafing out of the Indian plum, Oemleria cerasiformis. This prettly little shrub is just now leafing out in the Pacific Northwest in mid February. In less than a month it will be in full bloom with dangling clusters of small white flowers.

Both the hazel and the Indian plum let us know that spring is just around the corner.

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