Springtime in Centennial

I haven’t visited my site too many times since the snowmelt. And as if the shock of seeing the area out from under its blanket of snow wasn’t enough, I was amazed today as I turned the bend in the path to see that nearly all of the vegetation in my site had been cleared.

Since power lines go through the area, all of the plants are cut down every few years to prevent interference with the wires. Although I know that this practice is what makes the area unique, with a completely different distribution of species than in the surrounding forest, it’s sad to see it happen. The tall stag horn sumac with its fluffy red flowers I had come to love are all gone, and what was once a meadow is now mostly flattened dead grass.

Our mission this week was to search for any wildflowers which may be popping up or trees which are leafing-out or creating flowers. This proved to be rather difficult for me, and I can’t help but wonder if things would be different had my site not been so drastically disturbed so recently.

However, I was very excited to see a bunch of fiddlehead ferns popping up from where all of the vegetation had been! I believe these are Cinnamon Fern fiddleheads (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) because of their fuzzy white exterior. I didn’t see any fiddleheads in the rest of centennial, so maybe this is one exciting product of all that disturbance.

One young tree was full of clustered yellow flowers on my site. Doing some identification at home I believe it’s probably a young pussy willow (Salix discolor).

This is the one other flowering plant I was able to find, which I still haven’t managed to identify. I’m hoping uploading it to iNaturalist will help with that process.

Sketch of Pussy willow (Salix discolor)