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Harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa)
Harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa), a State Endangered plant, is found in rich hardwoods. Blooming occurs late April through early May; fruiting occurs throughout May. The optimal identification period for this species is late April through early May.
- Distinguishing characteristics: Leaves divided into 3-parted segments, each segment oval in shape with a rounded tip; flowers white, borne in small umbels 1 to 2 cm wide, subtended by a leaf-like bract.
- Flower characteristics: Born in umbels 1 to 2 cm wide, each composed of about 6 tiny white flowers with petals 3 to 4 mm long; anthers dark in color.
- Fruit characteristics: 5 mm wide, usually exceeded by the persistent bractlets, splitting into parts at maturity.
- Leaf characteristics: Broadly ovate in outline, 10 to 20 cm at maturity, repeatedly divided into 3-parted segments, each segment oval in shape with a rounded tip; petioles clasping the stem.
- Blooming phenology: late April through early May
- Fruiting phenology: throughout May
- Optimum time to identify: late April through early May
- Growth form: Forb-erect
- Vegetative reproduction:
- Life cycle: Perennial
- Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Tilia americana, Fagus grandifolia; presumably with many spring ephemerals.
Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin
The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.
|Federal Status in Wisconsin||none|
|Tracked by NHI||Y|
Habitats and landscapes
The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.
General habitat information
- Habitat description: Found in rich hardwoods.
- Soils: Rich soils.
This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Harbinger-of-spring. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).
|Southern Mesic Forest||3|
This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Harbinger-of-spring. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.
The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.
These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.
- Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
- Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species
- Avoid rapid and dramatic reductions in canopy cover or basal area in wet areas to reduce risk of swamping.
- Survey for and control invasive plants prior to conducting timber operations, as these can be spread by vehicles and often respond vigorously to increased light; see forestry BMPs for invasive species.
- Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.
- Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
Links to additional Harbinger-of-spring information
Other links related to vascular plants (all exit the DNR website)
- Wisconsin Vascular Plants
- Freckmann Herbarium
- Atlas of Wisconsin Prairie and Savanna Flora - Wisconsin State Herbarium
- USDA - NRCS Plants Database
- USGS Midwestern Wetland Flora - field office guide to plant species
- Cofrin Center for Biodiversity Herbarium
- Intermountain Herbarium Grasses of North America
- Orchids of Wisconsin
Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.