ParkTalk Podcast S31 Episode 03: Spring Blooms

Friday, December 16, 2022

Ed Hedborn, manager of plant records at the Morton Arboretum, describes the earliest signs of spring growth in our Northern Illinois trees, from the greening of the willow twigs to the blooms of the crabapple trees.

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Ed Hedborn (guest) and Sue Omanson (host)

Quotes from the episode:

"You start to see a subtle color change in the twigs of the willows in late February. They are a brighter yellow than they were in the depths of winter. It's a sign that spring is getting close. The earliest trees to bloom would be elms, ash, a lot of the wind-pollinated trees - oaks, maples. They come out before the leaves start opening up. Because they are wind- pollinated, you don't see showy color. But if you look closely with a hand lens, you can see a lot of color. But it's real small." - Ed Hedborn

"The insect-pollinated trees have petals because that's the stop sign that tells the insect that I've got nectar, I've got pollen to use. And oh, by the way, take pollen from my flowers over to that other flower." - Ed Hedborn


Although winter has just begun, it's never too early to think about your spring garden and landscaping. If you are thinking of planting a flowering tree this spring, here are some resources.

The Morton Arboretum's Blog: Spring Blooming Flowers

Typical flowering trees in the Chicago area - by Hendricksen Tree Care

View of flowering crabapple trees along the Naperville Riverwalk

Planting native plants and trees to plant at home

. The top four spring-flowering trees to plant - University of Illinois Extension

. Spring-flowering ornamental trees - Chicago Botanica Garden

. Tree List from Lake County Forest Preserve District

. Tree list from The Morton Arboretum

. Planting tips from the Missouri Botanical Gardens