The snow is almost gone in the Dallas Barnhartvale Nature Park. The delightful little sagebrush buttercup (Ranunculus glaberrimus) is now in bloom. It is consistently one of the earliest blooming wildflowers in our low elevation grasslands, sagebrush slopes, and ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests. The specific epithet, glaberrimus, means “very smooth” in reference to the shiny, hairless leaves. It is known to be poisonous so parents of grazing toddlers should be aware. The book, Plants of the Southern Interior, notes that the Secwepemc people used it as poison on their arrowheads.
On the excellent website created by Paul Handford, he notes that it blooms from March to July in the Park.
Another sign of spring I saw today was the growth of bright, white soil fungi on surface organic matter. The microscopic thread-like cells in the body of a fungus are called hyphae, and collectively in a mass it is called mycelium. The mycelium of decomposing fungi grows under the snow during winter and is revealed on the surface when the snow is gone. The white colour against the darker organic matter makes it easy to spot.