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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

    Arb Notes

    <ring!  All those beautiful spring flowers are poking up through the earth to quench our worries that winter would never end.  You probably have an image that instantly popped into your head.  Does it include those blue-purple flowers that carpet Carleton’s campus each April?

    This small, very early blooming flower is called Siberian Squill although it is also known by the name Scilla after its Latin name Scilla siberica.  The leaves are slender and light green surrounding a single “royal blue” flower.  The plant spreads by seed but grows each spring from a bulb, which is what allows it to be so hardy. Squill was introduced to North America in the late 18th century from Eurasia and since then the flower has been a popular landscaping addition.  Because of its hardiness and attractiveness to pollinating insects, Squill has adapted well and has spread from nearby residential yards to parts of the arboretum.

    While not an especially aggressive species, the plant grows in dense clumps that can crowd out native wildflowers.  There are portions of the upper arb near Spring Creek that have been completely taken over by Siberian Squill.  The arboretum crew is not currently targeting Squill for removal but is watching its growth and spread closely. 
    In the meantime, take a walk in the arboretum this weekend and keep an eye out for the native flowers that flourish there.  Look for the low-growing purple mottled leaves of the trout lily and the three-leaved, soon to be blooming(!), Trillium.  Happy Spring!

    – Griffin Williams for the Cole Student Naturalists

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