21 January 2011

A Winter Wildflower

Last weekend, Justin Thomas and I took a trip to Rocky Falls near Eminence in Shannon County, Missouri. Although this picturesque winter Ozark scene would have been worth the trip in itself, we had but one goal in mind.


That goal was to find a flowering plant in the depths of winter. In most years, the first flowering plant that I see in the new year is a non-native lawn species, such as a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) or a speedwell (Veronica spp.). Not so this year, thanks to Justin.


This is Ozark Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis), nearly an Ozark endemic shrub, known from but five states in the country with by far most of its occurrences in the Ozarks of Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Unlike the similar Eastern Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), which has a widespread distribution throughout the eastern half of the United States and which flowers from October to December, Ozark Witchhazel blooms from January to April. Whereas Eastern Witchhazel grows in moist woods, on wooded slopes, and in wooded valleys along streams, Ozark Witchhazel is at home in rocky areas along streams and in streambeds.

A nice treat for a January day.

13 comments:

Justin Thomas said...

As of three days ago, the cut stem of flowers in a vase on my bar started filling the house with the scent of roses.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a beauty. Finding one of these fills the heart with anticipation for the coming spring.

Scott Namestnik said...

Most of the flowers in my photos didn't look mature. Have they developed more, or does the scent come as they dry out?

Scott Namestnik said...

Yes, Lisa, a beautiful shrub indeed. Unfortunately, I think we have a while before spring arrives!

Justin Thomas said...

The color faded on the petals and the anthers definitely opened more. I'm guessing they DID mature in the house.

Keith said...

Beautiful shrub, and beautiful waterfall! It's nice to read about this on a dreary January day.

Scott Namestnik said...

I hear ya, Keith. It's getting more and more difficult to get up early each morning. Spring is on the way, right?

Keith said...

Hey Scott, it was drizzling this morning and that's good enough for me - SPRING IS HERE!

Scott Namestnik said...

You must be crazy if you call this spring!

Keith said...

The voices in my head told me it was spring, and I never argue with them!

Scott Namestnik said...

I think there's a chance that they led you astray this time.

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Beautiful! Do you guys have skunk cabbage in Missouri? That's always my first flower of the year.

Scott Namestnik said...

Thanks Elizabeth! I'm actually in Indiana, but was in Missouri visiting friends when I took those photos. They do not have skunk cabbage in Missouri, at least growing naturally. There are apparently specimens of the species from Missouri, but they have been determined to have been from intentionally planted individuals. Here in Indiana, we have skunk cabbage, and it is usally my first native flowering plant of the year as well.