We walked out our front door this morning to find the path strewn with hazelnut shells and husks. The squirrels and chipmunks must have had a party.

This is the most we ever see of the abundant hazelnuts (Corylus amaericana) that our trees bear–the shells that remain after the critters eat them. This year the nuts are being devoured even before they’re ripe. It’s at least two weeks earlier than hazelnuts usually ripen, and all the husks are still green. I wonder if there’s less food than usual because of the continuing drought, or more critters because of the mild winter.

Another thing that’s early is the flowering of several different prairie grasses: purple lovegrass, little bluestem, and prairie dropseed are all blooming now, again at least two weeks earlier than usual. Purple lovegrass in bloom, with its airy crown of tiny purple flowers, is lovely, but the seeds, which are darker purple and a bit larger than the blooms, are even more striking. This is a terrific plant for poor, dry soil and a hot, sunny site.


Purple lovegrasss (Eragrostis spectabilis) in bloom.


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