Photo by Corey Husic

Sunday, April 10, 2011

An Annual Favorite

Each spring, Trailing-arbutus blooms along the road to my house. Oddly enough, it seems to grow best along the old road cut we made 32 years ago when we built our house. We have a one-third mile road that we built to reach the house, and it is lined with such beauties as mountain laurel, sheep laurel, and blueberries under the power line. The trees are cut out every five to eight years, so the area is always open to sunlight, but somewhat shaded by the shrubs. On the shaded road cut slope facing north is where I find numerous beautiful lichens, mosses, running-pine, and Trailing-arbutus (Epigaea repens).

Trailing-arbutus is a creeping evergreen shrub with leathery leaves. It flowers in early spring, before leaf out on the trees. Its blossoms are ½” wide tubular flower with spreading petals. The flowers often occur in small clusters and are quite fragrant (although I can no longer seem to smell things like this very well).

Trailing-arbutus leaves and blossom

Nearby I found another favorite – Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), another creeping vine-like shrub. It also has evergreen leaves that are reddish this time of year, and some of the bright red berries are still hanging from the plants. I remember my grandfather showing me these and encouraging me to taste the waxy berries in fall when their teaberry taste was at its peak.


And right next to that, I found a patch of Hair-cap moss with the sporophyte stages that will form the capsules full of spores growing on top of the green moss plants.

Hair-cap moss

I then went to check on the spicebush in a nearby hollow and found that the buds are swelling and will open soon. With 80ยบ temperatures predicted for tomorrow, these will be bursting soon.


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