Might Spring Suddenly Explode?


Posted March 13, 2014

Written by Curator Emeritus Bob Glotzhober

The Minnesota author and naturalist/philosopher, Sigurd Olsen, wrote (paraphrased here as close as I can remember) "one can only truly appreciate spring after one has experienced a northern Minnesota winter." Ohio (and much of the US) has come close to that this winter so perhaps we'll really, really appreciate spring this year. But like Minnesota springs tend to explode with a flash flood of wildflowers irrupting like miniature volcanoes once the snow and cold finally leave! Might Ohio's spring be less drawn out than usual, and explode upon us this spring too?

On Tuesday (3/11), Bill Schultz and I hiked the Gorge at Fort Hill State Memorial (Highland Co., OH). What a beautiful day! Temps at least 65 in the afternoon -- and sweatshirts off and my sleeves rolled up. We saw four Bluebirds in the woods along the Bench -- lots of other neat things. Wood Frogs were quacking; Turkey Vultures soaring, Carolina Wrens bolding singing (really echoing loud in the gorge), and perhaps a dozen different Phoebes were buzzing their "Fee-buzz" songs.

However, our goal was to see the Snow Trillium -- which can typically be seen here in March. After 34 years of hiking the trails at Fort Hill, I know of at least three reliable spots to find Snow Trilliums. These are on top of promontories, with cliffs overlooking the waters of Baker Fork. Here the soils are thin on top of Peebles Dolomite, producing the alkaline/limestone soils that Snow Trilliums love. None were seen! The cold, cold, winter is continuing its effect on the advent of spring. Some of the early spring birds are back. But no Snow Trillium.

Here is a possible result. Once the Snow Trilliums do bloom (another week or more?) they might be quickly followed by Hepatica, then a wealth of other blooms pushing up in a compacted, rushed explosion of blooms. Will it be an explosive spring blooming season, or will the cool weather continue and things just all be pushed back and delayed? Only time will tell, but I'm betting on an explosive spring. If spring explodes this year, you better be ready to get out and enjoy those wildflowers when you can!

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