Spring goes on and the most incredible time in the boreal forest begins in the last decade of May. In my earlier post, I wrote about middle May, when the trees made shadow in the understory. It is not rare when hot days come to the north in late May. The ground still has enough water and all herbs grow very fast. Leaves of chevril and ground elder raise up, shoots of fireweeds appear from the soil. Latest trees, the aspen and the linden, show leaves making more and more shadow on the ground.
All shaded understory and sunny glades are now carpeted with delicate flowers of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). These tiny white bells produce not that much nectar, but there are thousands of flowers everywhere. The wind blows the odor so, that all the forest has an incredible spring flavor. Among aromatic lily of the valley, you may notice plants with four wide leaves and a very unusual flower on the top. This is a flower of Paris (Paris quadrifolia), deadly poisonous herb. At the same time, you can find first white flowers of wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca) and small beautiful arctic starflowers (Trientalis europaea). Bilberry is still blooming with thousands of small bulbs and attracts bumblebees.
The neighbor of birdcherry, red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) is starting to bloom. Leaves of this shrub had dark purple color in early spring, but now they became green and flowers are not noticeable on the green background. Nevertheless, specific smell attracts a lot of flies and other insects. First inconspicuous flowers appear on raspberry. Birch trees finished blooming, but the pine takes turn producing more yellow pollen, so it is still not a good time for allergics to visit the forest.
Buds on spruce trees began unfolding and show light green shoots. This is a good time to collect the first harvest. When shoots are 2-3cm of length, they are soft and contain high doses of vitamins. Pluck shoots from lower branches of elder trees put them into a plastic bag and keep frozen until cold dark winter. Never strip off younger spruces, they will stop growth without new shoots.
Birds still give concerts from early morning till late evening. Blackbirds and song thrushes open and close the concert, but during the day chaffinches are singing everywhere in the forest. This is the time when first juveniles of thrushes hatch out. Parents spend all days on the ground in search of earthworms and snails under dry leaves and moss. In the evening mother returns to the nest to keep kids in warm, but their father has few minutes to sing at sunset.
Lake is calm and quiet at the end of May. It is all surrounded by the belt of golden marsh marigold flowers (Caltha palustris). However, in a deep grass, that already raised above the water in backwaters, the population of geese has significantly grown. Tiny yellow juveniles of Canada geese are lurking in the grass and parents shield them from predators.
The last spring blooming tree is rowan. First white flowers mean, that summer has finally come and frosts are behind. Most likely, freezing temperatures will not return until autumn. Nights are still cold, but days are warm and sunny. Summer is coming. However, this also means, that mosquitoes are ready to come out. Usually, it happens with first hot days. During this spring almost all stagnant ponds have dried. Mosquitoes appear slowly and they are not active. But when the spring is wet and the heat comes fast, billions of bloodsuckers fly out in one-two days, so evenings become a nightmare for visitors of the forest. If you plan a weekend tour with overnight in the forest, do not forget to protect yourself.
Days are getting longer and longer. Clear sky does not get dark even at midnight starting in late May. Season of endless days, mosquitoes and incredible forest aroma is coming. Read the next story about it…