Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coltsfoot is flowering

Queen Victoria's birthday was kind in 2010. We didn't get snow on the long weekend, at least in Hinton town. But the hills and mountains had a fresh white coat and it was pretty cool. Pretty typical. That doesn't take away from the hardy early spring flowers, which are used to the occasional snowfall. The flower stalks of the palmate-leaved coltsfoot Petasites palmatus are blooming along the Beaver Boardwalk right now. With this species it's hard to connect the characteristic palmate leaves with the flowers, because the flowers appear before the leaves. The young flower stalks and the leaves are edible. If you'd like to try them please don't pick near the Boardwalk, and only take a portion of the plants in any area so they will continue to grow there.

Interestingly, the palmate-leaved coltsfoot leaves are far more common than the flower stalks. It's a very common forest floor sight, but most of these plants don't have enough sunlight to flower. The genus name Petasites means "wide-brimmed hat", which refers to the large leaves.

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