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rock jasmine

Rock jasmine (Androsace occidentalis)

It is April 11 in Wisconsin and spring has arrived, or so the calendar tells us. Looking beyond the bursts of snow flurries, you can indeed find spring this day. Rock jasmine (Androsace occidentalis) is in flower and tiny long-bodied flies investigate its foliage. Though more common in western states, this minute annual (2.5 cm) is rare in Wisconsin where it meets the eastern edge of its range. It prefers sandy to rocky soils where there is little competition from other plants but where it must germinate, flower, and set seed before the drier days of summer. Today its companion includes the new growth of pineapple weed (Matricaria matricarioides), not yet in flower. The fragrance of its crushed leaves are reminescent of chamomile and later, the fragrance of the flowers will suggest pineapple. I am surprised to find a plant of the Asteracea family also in flower today. Common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) is, as its name suggests, a common annual in our area growing in many disturbed areas. Early though these plants may be, they are not the first to bloom this spring. Cabbage flower or skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), chickweed (Stellaria media), beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), and pussy willow (Salix discolor) have already flowered. Soon to come are the elms (Ulmus americana and U. pumila), marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris), and red maple (Acer rubrum). Look closely, breathe deeply, it is spring.

Contributed by UWGB graduate student Kathy Groves

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Last updated on May 9, 2014