With warmer weather on the way, we’re thinking of all the beautiful plants of spring. Of course, before our favorite flowers start to pop up, there are some plants starting to bloom that you may not have noticed. There are also an incredible number of plants in our collection – over 15,000! (You can check out a selection of them in this video.) So, today let’s take a look at some of the plants you can find around the Nature Museum and in your own backyard.
Tree flowers in bloom!
Spring has arrived and you can see signs of it, as long as you know where to look! When it comes to flowers, tree flowers are some of our earliest to bloom. Our plant expert, Seth, let us know that the Nature Museum’s silver maples are in bloom.
Guiding Question: Have you noticed any trees with small flowers or buds on them? What did they look like? Why do you think they’re blooming now? What are some other signs of spring?
Make discoveries about plants and more!
This cool fungus is called turkey tail. It grows on the sides of trees in layers. Our scientists were able to identify it right away, but what can you do if you see a plant that you don’t recognize? You can download the Seek app! Take a picture and the app will help you identify what you’re looking at.
Guiding Question: Why do you think it’s called turkey tail? What is unique about its coloring and shape? Can you name another kind of fungus? Maybe one that we eat?
What’s a lichen like?
Have you noticed patterns like this on tree branches? One of our friends asked us what it might be. Our plant expert, Seth, said it looked like it was a tree lichen. Lichens are unique because they’re a mutually beneficial relationship between two organisms — fungi and algae. The fungus provided moisture for the algae, and the algae creates food for the fungus without hurting the tree. Click here to check out some beautiful lichens and plant specimens that were collected by a woman named Elizabeth Atwater about 200 years ago!
Guiding Question: Have you noticed trees or branches that look like this? Why do you think it grows on trees like that? Do you think it helps or hurts the tree?
Make your own plant pressing or rubbing!
Guiding Question: What plants are we going to use? How would you describe its shape? Its color? Do you think this plant is common (easy to find) or rare (hard to find)?
Behind the scenes!
Our animal care and engagement teams are hard at work taking care of our animals every single day. Check out our Instagram for fun behind-the-scenes shots of them at work!