Maple Flowers and Marsh Plants

It is easy to miss maple flowers, especially on large trees. From a distance, the branches appear to blush and that is all. Look closely and you’ll see a profusion of anthers leaping out of short, red petals.

Red maple flowers
(Male) red maple flowers – accession #15350*A

I visited the marsh area of the Arboretum to see what was in flower. I saw some Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) underneath the redwoods, nodding their blue flower-heads.

Siberian squill flowers
Siberian squill

Closer to the wet ground were Japanese butterbur (Petasites japonicus) which looked like little cabbages carrying bouquets of star-shaped, white flowers. The plants are small now but the leaves will eventually grow to be rhubarb-size.

Japanese butterbur flowers
Japanese butterbur

I found a European relative of the Japanese butterbur, common butterbur (Petasites hybridus), growing in the swamp proper. The flower-heads look like they belong on a coral reef.

Common butterbur
Common butterbur

And, finally, some bright-looking flowers that reflected the strong afternoon sun: lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria). This is a plant that embraces spring with all of its heart-shaped leaves and nine-petaled flowers.

Lesser Celandine in flower
Lesser celandine

Interesting to note that none of the marsh plants above are native to New England.

Thanks to Sheila for the ID help.

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