Although the mid-week snow (in May?!?) may cast doubts on the presence of spring, the brief warm spell was enough to unleash some hopeful signs. Many of the trees are starting to bud, and if you venture into Stork Forest, many of our spring ephemerals are blooming! If you’re feeling pessimistic about the weather, it’s definitely worth wandering through the second street entrance and into the Upper Arb to see the wild flowers!
Throughout Northfield, there’s a more nefarious flower sprouting everywhere. Many yards in town and many areas around campus have been covered in a blanket of small blue flowers. Although they look pretty, this Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica) is highly invasive. Siberian Squill is hardy and proliferates rapidly by seed or by bulb. It’s also hard to stop its spread, because when you try to remove the plant, only the stem comes off, leaving the bulb to resprout next year. Most animals avoid Siberian Squill and it can cause a rash if handled.
More importantly for our native species, Siberian Squill can crowd out native wild flowers. Many of our pollinators are specialists which depend on certain native flowers for their food. The flowers in Stork Forest are crucial for supporting a diverse pollinator population, but Siberian Squill is encroaching on that area, too. Plants such as Siberian Squill highlight the importance of researching which species we put in our gardens. Even though Siberian Squill may look pretty, native wildflower species are a much better choice!
- Jasmine Cutter '13 for the Cole Student Naturalists.