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Winter Rosettes


Have you noticed little patches of green or grey-green leaves hugging the ground on you Greenway walks? These aren't early spring shoots, but plants that put up space-holder leaves to save themselves a spot 'til spring. The fight for survival is strong among perennials, as they can't just move over if crowded by other plants. If you look closely at these winter rosettes you can see how the leaves rotate position in their layers so that each leaf has the best opportunity to catch the sun. The 4 to 6 inch grey-green, thick, velvety leaves of the Common Mullein (Verbascum genus) are sometimes called the”hikers washcloth”. The American Indians, and the colonists that came later, used the leaves in their footware for warmth. The mature summer plant retains a large set of basal leaves, that gets its beginning in the winter. The Pussytoes (Antennaria) form dense winter mats, only an inch or two high. Their leaves are linear without teeth and very lightly veined. Most noticable is their blue-green upper surface of the leaf and white wooly underneath. The Common Plantain (Plantago) have egg-shaped leaves without teeth and noticably veined. The miniature leaves of the Mouse-eared-Chickweed (Cerastium) cluster along the ground. Their thin linear leaves have no teeth but are fuzzy as are the tiny stems. The Wild Strawberry ( Fragaria) puts up a few roundish, sharply toothed leaves in groups of 5. Probably the smallest leaves are those of the Creeping Bluets (Houstonia) at one eighth of an inch round, though Ground Ivy (Glechoma) has tiny scalloped leaves only one quarter to one half inch. A hand lens will help you appreciate their beauty. The Moneywort's leaves (Lysimachia) often turn purple in winter. Its rounded leaves are opposite on the creeping stem. The clovers (Trifolium) have small oval, toothed leaves grouped in 3's, unless you are lucky enough to find a four-leaved one. Their leaf veins are neatly parallel. Wood Sorrel (Oxalis), so often mistaken for clover, have untoothed leaves shaped like hearts that are attached by the points in sets of 3. Field Sorrel (Rumex) have small halbard shaped leaves in their rosette. Hawkweeds (Hieracium) have long whitish hairs on the upper surface of the linear leaves. They usually cover a large patch of ground with their leaf clusters. You will have the jump on others less observant, come early spring, when you know where to look for some of these plants.

#Trees #Greenway #Hemlock

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Friends of the Greenway -- FROG Quarters
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