Signs of Spring in the Piedmont

Signs of Spring are beginning to appear in the Piedmont, despite the lingering snow.

The Piedmont of the East Coast of North American is characterized by mixed hardwood forests. Hickories and Oaks are common, both groups having numerous species. At this point of the year, they are still mostly dormant, meaning despite the many trees, a decent amount of sunlight reaches the ground. Hence a large population of what are called “spring ephemerals”, mostly small, mostly white flowers which appear for a few months and then disappear at the beginning of summer. They are beginning to appear.

Animals which have been dormant are starting to move too. It’s a good time for amphibians to breed, as long as they can stand the cold. Tadpoles have a better chance of reaching adulthood if they can be in and out of water before the mass of migratory birds reappears in the spring.

And then there’s migration too. It’s still cold, the faster you can get to your preferred nesting/breeding site, the more likely you are to beat out your completion.

Here is a short list of other common critters and plants to get you started:

Bluets. Also called Quaker Ladies

Bluets, Houstonia ssp (there are multiple species), should be out in a month or so. They are tiny, blue, and appear in clumps.

Spring Beauty. Notice the yellow interior. They often appear a bit singular

Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica, are out about now. They are slightly bigger than the bluets and white.

Spring Peeper frog on a hydrangea leaf
Spring Peeper. You will not see them. You will hear them. Peep Peep Peep.

Spring Peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, are noisily breeding.

American toad
American Toad being all Toady.

American Toad, Anaxyrus americanus, may appear if the day is warm enough. Be aware that five years ago these were Bufo instead of Anaxyrus. Important if you’d like to get more information.

Silver-haired bat in a bucket
This Silver-Haired Bat would easily fit in your hand

Silver-Haired Bat, Lasionycteris noctivagans, are migrating between the Gulf and points north. They are solitary bats, at least during migration, and you may find one in your house. Do not panic. They will soon leave. Then you should block up whatever access they had.

Red Maple Female Flowers
Red Maples have Red Flowers. These are female flowers. The males are fuzzier.

Red Maples, Acer rubrum, are starting to flower. The leaves are not out, but the flowers are. They’re a favorite of bees this time of year.

Sugar maple female flowers
Sugar Maples have yellow flowers. The male flowers are fuzzier.

Southern Sugar Maples, Acer floridanum, are also starting to flower. These are almost identical to the ones that maple syrup comes from, but do not have as strong a sap flow.