Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday Wildflower: Marsh Marigold

A bright spot in the mid-May HBG
Even in a relatively good year, the first half of May in Alberta is not a colourful time of the year. Browns and greys still dominate in the bush and in Edmonton, even with its advantage of a strong Urban Heat Island effect, we depend for colour on those with the forethought to have planted bulbs last Fall.
Facing West in the afternoon sun
The one striking exception is the native Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris Linnaeus. Ever since we added it to our bog garden in 2005, the Marsh Marigold has been up as soon as the snow melts and blooming before the Ides of May. In the warmer springs before 2008, the blooms were opening in the first week (2-5 May), but since then it has been near the end of the second week. This year the first bloom was on May 8th, no record, but an indication that this Spring has been milder than the previous four.
Volunteer in foreground, progenitors in background
The bumble bees spend most of their time in the willows, coltsfoot, or the early spring bulbs, but they do forage at Marsh Marigold and no doubt contribute to seed set. Hoverflies seem especially appreciative of the flowers, although they are rather secretive about their identities. The one below may be a species of Eupeodes, but many Syrphini look very much alike to me.
Hoverfly (Syriphidae)
We now have several more Marsh Marigolds than we started with, but they are in no sense weedy. The flowers are gone before summer, but the glossy leaves are attractive too. All-in-all, Marsh Marigold is a rather excellent native addition to a damp spot in the garden.
Fruits of Marsh Marigold

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