Despite temps in the 20s this morning, I went out to the Skidmore College woods today, wondering if the fuzzy buds of hepaticas might be showing. I find both the Sharp-lobed Hepatica species (Hepatica acutiloba) and the Round-lobed Hepaticas (H. americana) there in that lime-rich forest. Now that the snow is finally gone from the forest floor, I can easily find hepaticas' wintered-over and rather showy leaf clusters. But would I find the buds emerging yet? It was possible. The buds have thick fur coats to protect them from early spring's occasional freezes, so my hopes were up.
And so were the buds! At least in this one Round-lobed plant they were. I didn't find them in every nearby plant I examined, but they sure were present in this one. So furry they were, as if bundled up in buntings against the cold.
I wandered about, peering into the center of every hepatica leaf cluster I found, hoping to see more furry, petal-tipped buds. Nope. Nope. Yep. Nope. Yep. Nope.
Then YES! I found not only some fur-coated buds, but a single wide-open pale-purple flower, springing from the center of this cluster of sharp-lobed, prettily mottled green leaves.
(Strictly speaking, though, we can't call hepaticas "spring ephemerals," since their leaves persist, not only all summer, but all winter long and also well into the following spring. That's what makes their early signs of bloom -- like this! -- possible to find.)