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Snowdrops for Spring?

By Jake Francis, Director of Education, Schrader Center — Walking over the habitat discovery loop trail this morning our Director of Nature Interpretation, Greg Park, and I noticed a carpet of small white flowers pushing up through last fall’s decaying leaves. Stooping down to look at this spring ephemeral (plants that flower fruit and senesce before the trees leaf out to take advantage of high light conditions or early rising pollinators), I was reminded of a toothwort (Dentaria spp.) except this plant had parts in threes while toothworts tend to have parts in fours. After trying to key out this mystery plant in the Flora of W.Va I was unable to find a good match…perhaps we had found a new species!

After a little more searching though, the real identity of this little flower revealed itself as the common snowdrop (Galathus nivalis). The common snowdrop is an escaped garden plant native to Europe that has captured the hearts of many horticulturalists, resulting in the development of unique cultivars and its spread to many new areas, including our little corner of Oglebay Park. Though some plants that escape cultivation into new habitats can wreak havoc in their new surroundings, it seems that our population of snowdrops is not out of control or spreading. Instead this little white flower is serving as a much welcomed harbinger of spring!

From watching the birds pairing up (including a nesting pair of  Red-bellies and a pair of Red-shouldered hawks), to tasting the sweet maple sap we have concentrated into syrup, you and your family can experience everything spring has to offer too. Be sure to keep checking our blog for signs of spring around Oglebay Park!

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