Beautiful Green

There is nothing like the green of new leaves in spring. Every year it get’s me excited about the upcoming summer, as the surrounding landscape changes into a living and breathing environment after the long sleep of winter. And it is everywhere, you don’t have to go to a park to see it. Every small group of trees or small, undeveloped, lot in my neighborhood seems to burst with this overwhelming shade of green!

The first flush of leaves

Along with the leaves there are also some of the first understorey flowers showing up. In the foreground of this picture you can see several flowering plants. The white-flowered plant is Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata).

Garlic mustard

It is a very pretty plant, with the flowers showing the typical arrangement for the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae), with four petals and six anthers (four long, two short) arranged around a single stigma. You can even see the stigma in the lower flowers turning brown as they develop into the unique fruit-type of Mustards, a seed capsule known as a silique.

Garlic mustard leaf

Unfortunately Garlic Mustard is an invasive species native to Europe and Asia. Invasive species are one the largest contributors to biodiversity loss, as they often cause significant damage to the functioning of native ecosystems. So do your part to control Garlic Mustard’s spread by not transporting seeds, and by removing plants when you see them (especially from areas it has not been seen before). Another thing you can do to reduce its’ numbers is eat it.

Garlic mustard and male spider

There is also an international project going on studying differences between native and invasive populations of Garlic Mustard that needs the help of citizen scientists. Click here to find out more about how you can get involved in an international collaboration (it only requires ~2 hours of work)!

Another great part about early spring is that the weather can result in large amounts of morning dew. This makes every little leaf and flower even more spectacular as they sparkle in their temporary morning jewels. When I got up close to this Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca L.) growing in my neighbours lawn, I noticed it looked like someone had sewn beads to the points on each leaf. Very beautiful in the morning sun!

Wild Strawberry

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5 Responses to Beautiful Green

  1. TGIQ says:

    Yay! Borkent has a blog! Blogrolled! 🙂

  2. Dave says:

    Hey Chris,

    Nice to see you blogging. On a less spectacular note here in Alberta, green now too, but the Mitella nuda in my backyard just started blooming yesterday. It is supposed to have specialist mycetophilid pollinators – with beaks. Any idea what they might be in Alberta? I’ve been waiting a year to blog on them and now that the flowers have bloomed, I no longer have any excuse to bludge.

    • Hey Dave,
      Glad to hear things are greening up in Alberta! In terms of pollinators on Mitella, though a number of species in Japan are pollinated by Gnoriste (the long-beaked mycetophilid you mention, some good pics and notes in the first link below) there are also numerous other genera of mycetophilids that visit other Mitella species. The second linked paper mentions three different genera (Allodia, Boletina, Coelosia) found on M. nuda in Japan, all of which occur in N. America but also have ‘short-beaks’. There is also a fungus gnat pollinator discussion group on ‘Fungus Gnats Online that you can join and post to if you want info from others looking directly at mycet pollinators (

      Hope that helps!

      Click to access 24200.pdf

  3. Chelsea Pugh says:

    During its rosette stage, garlic mustard resembles several native plants also found in the forest understory, including several plants in the Saxifrage family (e.g., Tellima grandiflora (fringe cup) and Tolmiea menziesii (piggy-back plant). Saxifrages may be distinguished from garlic mustard by their long hairs, particularly on the leaf stems. Nipplewort (Lapsana communis) can be distinguished from garlic mustard by its flowers, which are yellow instead of white. Money plant (Lunaria annua) is similar but has round, flattened seedpods.

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