Urban Nature Walk: Arnold Arboretum

On Sunday, I joined an Urban Nature Walk in the Arnold Arboretum led by Jef. Last year at this time, a few magnolias, cherries, and red maples were blooming. This year, winter still held sway with temperatures in the 30s F, a cold wind, and patches of snow hiding in shadow.

Despite the cold, we found a few plants in flower. Skunk cabbages (Symplocarpus foetidus) were popping up near the marsh.

Skunk Cabbage in bloom
Skunk cabbage in bloom

The rosegold pussy willow (Salix gracilistyla), native to East Asia, was also starting to bloom.

Rosegold pussy willow flowers
Yellow in an oval of red on a bed of cotton.

Witch-hazels lined Meadow Road with their yellow-tail flowers.

Red Japanese witch-hazel
The attached end of Japanese red witch-hazel (Hamamelis japonica f. flavopurpurascens) flower petals tend toward red.
Chinese witch-hazel
Bright yellow of the Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis)
'Arnold Promise' witch-hazel in bloom
The hybrid witch-hazel Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise'

We found many scattered snowdrops but only a few crocuses.

Snowdrops in bloom
Snowdrops abounded.
Some of the few crocus plants we did see.

Most trees, however, carried their branches bare. And the beech trees still held onto their ghostly white leaves.

Retained beech leaves
Beeches with retained leaves.

Jef brushed aside leaf litter on Bussey Hill and discovered a couple of millipedes.

Two millipedes in Jef's palm
Two species of millipedes.

And I found this fungus gnat (thanks to John Carr on Bug Guide for the ID).

Fungus gnat resting on stone.
Fungus gnat with a very red head.

Jef is especially interested in mushrooms at the moment and pointed out a piece of wood colored green by the green elf-cup fungus.

Wood with green stain fungus
Wood with green-stain fungus

Thanks to Jef for the educational experience! I highly recommend Jef’s blog The Urban Pantheist, especially his series on 365 urban species.

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