Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 04/07/2015


Photo taken on April  6, 2015


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Keywords

macro
Ranunculaceae
Calgary
Pasque flower
Buttercup family
wind flower
Sandy Beach
Prairie Crocus
prairie smoke
Pulsatilla patens
pale purple
blooms in spring
prairie anemone
Alberta
Canada
nature
flora
snow
flower
flowers
mauve
plant
close-up
native
wildflower
botany
ice crystals
petal-like sepals


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Ice crystals on Prairie Crocus

Ice crystals on Prairie Crocus
Yesterday morning, 6 April 2015, I went with friends on a birding walk down in the Weaselhead. I wasn't sure I wanted to go, as it was snowing, just like the previous day, too. The temperature was -3°C to 1°C. However, I am glad I did go, otherwise I would have missed seeing the welcome splash of colour of a male American Goldfinch that must have overwintered here in the city.

We walked just as far as the main metal bridge and back, and we then drove through the park, stopping at one place to look over the Glenmore Reservoir from North Glenmore Park. The second stop was at the nearby Crowchild Stormwater Pond.

After the birding walk, I decided to drive just a short distance further to see if I could find any Prairie Crocuses. I wasn't sure if they would be completely covered in snow. Fortunately, I found a few, but they were not in the best condition. Also, the hillside was wet and very slippery, so I was glad when I had taken several very quick shots and could leave. These Crocuses are the first flowers to appear each spring, often appearing around the end of March and sometimes as early as mid-March. No wonder they need to wear their furry winter jackets : )

"The prairie crocus (Anemone patens), is the first plant to bloom on the prairie each year. The true harbinger of spring, its mauve, petal-like sepals dot the still drab prairie landscape, often before the last snow of winter has melted. By blooming so early, the crocus assures itself of the complete attention of available pollinators - small bees and other insects. Its seeds can then ripen by early June and if moisture is available they will germinate right away. If the prairie is too dry the seeds will go dormant, then germinate the following spring.

Tufts of much-divided leaves emerge once flowering is finished and the risk of severe frost is over, but still well before most other prairie plants.

The saucer-shaped construction of many spring flowers like the crocus, is no accident. Neither is the fuzzy centre of the crocus (composed of numerous yellow stamens and a tuft of greyish pistils - that become plumed fruit), nor its highly reflective petals. It all adds up to solar heating . . . Crocus Style!

The sunlight that reaches the crocus' shiny petals is reflected into the flower centre. This energy is bounced around between the stamens and pistils warming these vital reproductive parts of the flower. On a sunny day the temperature inside a crocus flower can be as much as 10 C (18 F) warmer than the temperature of the surrounding air. Not only does the dish shaped flower concentrate the sun's warmth, it tracks the sun across the sky, maximizing the length of time each day that it can stay warmer than the surrounding air." From naturenorth.com.

www.naturenorth.com/spring/flora/crocus/Prairie_Crocus2.html

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