We've seen various plants and shrubs like forsythia blooming late this season, because of the mild fall we've had, but there is one shrubby tree that is blooming right now, and it's not uncommon for it!
Naturalist Larry Clarfeld pointed out a Witch Hazel that was growing right near the parking lot at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier.
"It's something that you might not notice other times of year, but here we are in early December, and this plant is still clinging on to some very bright yellow, spindly flower and that really makes it stand out. This is a witch hazel plant."
"It's a name that people might be used to seeing in the pharmacy, they can actually use an extract from the bark of this plant, mixed with alcohol to make an astringent that can have some medicinal uses, but you might not even realize...
"Yes I never realized that it actually grew in Vermont as a shrub or a tree."
"Yes, there are some plants where in the fall if you have a warm spell, the day length is similar in the spring and in the fall, so this is a phenomenon that is referred to as autumnal recrudescence where animals will start singing in the fall when they should really be singing in the spring, some flowers will do that too. But not with this plant, this plant naturally blooms late into the fall and even after the first couple of snows have fallen this plant can still hold onto some of it's flowers."
"It's not a plant that is common though is it?"
"Well, depending on where you are in the state. It can be fairly common in the south, to almost absent in the northeast kingdom."
"And how much longer are these flowers likely to be around?
"It depends, there are certain natural varieties that flower in the late fall. Then there are other cultivated varieties that can actually flower even into the winter, so depending on what kind of witch hazel you have, it might hold onto it's flowers all winter long."
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