The Life and Times of Spring Ephemerals

Our native spring ephemerals live such fascinating lives. Our awareness of their presence is so fleeting -- many of them will flower, go to seed, and die back all in a matter of a couple weeks -- yet many of them are long-lived and have complex ecological relationships. Certainly these small wonders are worth a closer look. Micranthes virginiensis or early small-flowered saxifrage, is one of the earliest flowering spring ephemerals, though you’re not likely to notice it. It’s basal rosette persists all year long, turning a dark red in the winter and greening back up as the weather warms up. It begins forming buds in the fall, which over winter and open up early in the spring, still low to th

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Banner: Late October in a mixed stand of hickories, oaks, and American beech at Fountainhead Regional Park, on the northern shore of the Occoquan River, in Fairfax County, Virginia. Photo by Chris Bright. 

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