Tag Archives: bees

New To Me: Winter Aconite

Three days in the 40s, three days in the 50s, and spring has burst onto the scene in Philadelphia. (Can’t you just hear the Halleluiah Chorus? C’mon, sing it with me – hal-lejuiah, hal-leluiah!)

I spent the afternoon with my two little guys at Morris Arboretum. I basked in the sun and took pictures; the 4-year-old and 5-year-old threw rocks in the creek and ran and ran and ran.  It was a visit enjoyed by all.  The photo ops started at the parking lot, where I had to squeeze in next to a left0ver snow drift because it was so darn crowded. Under a pine tree were loads of these sunny little buttercupish flowers.  They were crocus sized and fabulous. And incredibly intoxicating to the first bees I’ve seen in months.

Winter Aconite (eranthis hyemalis) is a native of Asia Minor and Europe ranging from southern France to Bosnia (southern france?!?! – no wonder they exude sunshine.) They show up in the very very early spring – around the same time as the snowdrops and before the crocuses. They’re blooming here now with the crocuses because of all the snow we’ve  had.  They bloom for a couple of weeks, welcome in the spring, and then disappear until next year. They like lots of water.  I read quite a few rants about their invasiveness, although because they bloom and go dormant so early, they don’t make too much of a nuisance of themselves. Highly poisonous though – I guess that’s a downside. The University of Wisconsin warns that the tuber can “cause nausea, vomiting, colic attacks and visual disturbances.” Visual disturbances? Are we talking hallucinations? Blurred vision? Near sitedness? Not to take the warning lightly: don’t eat winter aconite.

Don’t eat them, but do admire them when they drift:

And if you want them in your garden, sow seeds in the fall or divide clumps in the spring. I’ll be doing it. They’re too good to resist. I guess I’ll only have to have one child vomit, contract colic and experience visual disturbances once before they learn that lesson.

Besides the Winter Aconite, here’s why today was a perfect day out of doors. A few weeks from now, Morris Arboretum will be so chock full of blooming beauties that I won’t know where to look . It will be stimulating. It will be overwhelming. It will be wonderful. But in a few weeks, will I be stopping the horticulturalist to ask about a buttercup the size of a quarter? Will I look it up and learn about its habits and identify its native growing area? I must admit probably not. Winter (and yes, it is still winter),  gives me a wonderful excuse to focus. To focus on the five things that were blooming today, to appreciate them for their special attributes, to plan to add them to my garden.  Someone remind me of this in the fall when I’m exhausted by all the stimulation, the overwhelming, the wonderful.

Here are today’s other beauties:

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