Spring is… springing?

So far in November/December I’ve seen wild primroses, lesser celandine and dog violet in flower – via #wildflowerhour I’ve also heard of snowdrops, dog’s mercury and daffodils. These are all spring species but the ongoing mild start to the winter seems to be tricking them into starting early.

These responses to unseasonal conditions highlight one of the major concerns associated with climate change – the effect of phenology, the timing of natural events. Environmental cues are critical to the success of many species – they need to know when to flower, when to lay eggs, when to emerge from a cocoon, when to germinate. When the signals go awry, then there will be more and more of these false triggers tricking species into mis-timing their actions. In the case of spring flowers, an autumn/winter flowering would have difficulty with pollination, persistence, development of seeds and simply survival through the long, dark winter.

Another example I spotted yesterday was this arum lily (also known as lords and ladies or cuckoo pint) unfurling its leaves from the woodland floor. Personally, I always associate the arrival of these first shoots with the start of spring, when the chill starts to leave the air and the days get a little longer. Unfortunately it’s another 9 days of creeping darkness until the shortest day of the year and a long old way until we’re back out of the other side of winter…

Arum lily - Arum maculatum

 

 

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