This witch hazel tree blooms near our front door. This particular photo was taken last year… when snow rested on the pedals. I planted it a dozen years ago… true to form it grows very slow… come February it blooms scrawny long-pedal flowers. They smell sweet like jasmine. I wonder why some plants bloom in winter… what’s the design sense in that? Most flowers bloom in spring largely because they need to set fruit or seed and have it mature before winter.

In a nutshell… flowers first appeared on earth around 100 million years ago, and quickly spread around the world. Flowers were able to thrive because of their short life cycle: they grew quickly, died quickly and fertilized the soil so that more flowers could grow. Soon, a host of insects, birds and animals became pollinators for these plants. Nectar eaters spread pollen, while fruit eaters spread seeds.

Because weather varies dramatically throughout the year in most parts of the world, a plant that produces fruit has only a few months to get that job done. But still not all flowers bloom in spring! Summer blooms produce pollen and seeds… so they don’t produce fruit. The warm summer months are long enough for them to propagate safely. Some flowers are hardy enough to survive the first frosts of autumn, and they can bloom quite late in the summer. By emerging later, they avoid having to compete for insects’ attention, ensuring that they will be pollinated.

So when you think of flowers of winter… they’re just really getting a head start… I’m guessing because they’re slower growers, and have evolved to be cold-hardy. I can’t tell you their reason for doing this or which bugs are around to pollinate them!!! Can anyone help me out on this one??? Does anyone else have some winter bloomers going on now?

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