Sunday, March 18, 2012

Welcome, Wee Wonderful Weeds!

Speaking of Draba verna, a little white mustard so tiny it's almost invisible, Aldo Leopold said it best:

"He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba.  He who despairs of spring with downcast eyes, steps on it, unknowing.  He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance."

Well, Leopold could have been talking about me today, crawling around a sun-warmed bank of Moreau Lake, searching for this charming little alien weed, also called Whitlow Grass.  I'd found it there last year and the year before, but always several weeks later than mid-March.  The weather has been so warm of late, I was wondering if it was possible that Draba verna could be already in bloom.  And there it was!  Right before my eyes, but only if my eyes were less than a foot from the ground.  From a standing height, I wouldn't have seen it at all.

Nearby was another equally-almost-invisible tiny white flower that I might have mistaken for that of Draba verna, until I took a closer look.  Then I could see that this flower had five deeply cleft petals, instead of Draba's four, and it grew on a sprawling stem with smooth little egg-shaped leaves, while Draba grows on a leafless stalk from a basal rosette of hairy, sharply pointed leaves.  This little flower is Common Chickweed (Stellaria media), another little alien weed of what we call "waste places," those dry and nutrient-poor soils that are inhospitable to all but the toughest plants, including those as tiny and adorable as Draba verna and Chickweed.

P.S.  To read more of what Leopold said about Draba verna in his Sand County Almanac,  you can go to my post for April 14 of last year by clicking here.

1 comment:

suep said...

Draba is anything but drab !