So what is it I am seeing out there, in the still frozen woods? In a single word....trees. Before all the other vegetation fills in, it is a perfect time to really see the trees. Figuring out what kind they are works for those that have dropped their leaves on the forest floor under them. The oaks are the easiest. Northern pin oak, white oak, red oak, and burr oak are common throughout the village. Ironwood and tamarack, the perpetual Eastern Red Cedar.
There are 35 species of trees that are native to Todd County. These would be trees that would have been here when the first European settlers arrived. I am currently at 15 species, with the rest waiting for leaves to pop out for positive identification.
As I go through the woods, looking at trees, one of the things I do is measure the diameter. Different types of trees grow at different rates, and end up at very different sizes. I am looking for the largest of each species in the Village. There are some "big" trees out there! Ironwood is supposed to grow to 12" in diameter, and I have found one that is 14.5"! I found a Pin Oak that is at it's upper size at 18". There are tamaracks by the marl ponds that are approaching top size, and I would love to get a slice of a trunk (of an already dead tree) to count the rings. I wonder if they are actually very old, or just fast growing. It will be interesting to see what the biggest tree in the village ends up being!
The first green growing vegetation observed by me in the woods is Motherwort (leonurus cardiaca). A member of the mint family, it is valued by herbalists. Unfortunately, it is an invasive species, escaped from gardens. Just how wide spread it is, is yet to be seen.
With warmer temps, spring will creep through the forests and field, new things sprouting up all over. Green is coming!