Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things to Look for in May

We've been posting for almost a year here at the Natural Capital, so we thought we'd go back and see what we said to look for last year in May. Things are a little early this year, but the list still holds. What have you been seeing outside lately? Leave us a comment and tell us what to look out for!

Photo credit: cotinis
Pinxter Azaleas - Some yards are an absolute riot of hot pinks and purples in the spring with azaleas bred from Asian species. But there is actually an azalea native to this area, and it's quite showy in its own right. This year, all the azaleas were several weeks ahead of their normal schedule, but you should still be able to see some pinxters blooming out there. At least, we saw one yesterday that was still holding many of its blooms. Make sure to give a sniff -- they smell fantastic.

tuliptree flower
Photo credit: The Natural Capital

Tuliptree Flowers - Tuliptrees are one of the dominant species in the forests in and around Washington, DC. But because the trees are so tall, many people have never seen their flowers. They're blooming now, and you may find some falling on the ground even if you can't see them in the treetops. But the real treat is, you can drink their nectar.

Baltimore oriole
Photo credit: Eric Begin

Baltimore Orioles - Migrating right along with the tuliptree nectar are the orioles. We've been hearing them over the last couple of days, and spotted our first one yesterday -- in a tuliptree. Learn to recognize their pretty song and you may greatly improve your chances of actually seeing one.

Mountain Laurel blooms
Photo credit: ac4lt

Mountain Laurel -  The gnarled, shaggy trunks of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) make it a showy shrub at any time of year. But in late May or early June, they burst into flower. We're leading a free hike for the Maryland Native Plant Society to our favorite stand of mountain laurel on May 22 -- hopefully we won't be too late, with this early spring we're having!