Galanthus nivalis is a beautiful snow-burning plant that is a wonderful herald of spring!

About this time (maybe even earlier!) each year, I start missing the sunshine and heat like crazy! Fortunately, nature’s got my back and I can get my “spring fix” even during the last dreary winter days. A few flowers get tired of the grey like I do and do something about it; they heat up the snow around them and melt it away, making way for their cheerful colors!

Some of these plants are the recognizable Snow Drop, Crocus, and Skunk Cabbage! But you may ask – “How do these flowers burn through the snow? That’s crazy!” It is pretty amazing, but guess what… we have a very similar ability as well!

Plant Thermogenesis

This Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, is pushing it's way up through the snow. Notice the ring of melted snow around the cluster!
This Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, is pushing it’s way up through the snow. Notice the ring of melted snow around the cluster!

Thermogenesis is the process of creating one’s own heat. As a warm-blooded animal, humans and our kitties and puppies, have this ability. Instead of needing to sun ourselves on a toasty rock or roadside like cold-blooded snakes do, we simply warm our bodies up (I may struggle with this, but still, I’m not THAT reptilian)! We ingest food, metabolize it, and create heat. What do you think a calorie is? It’s a unit of heat! The process of metabolizing nutrients is similar to the workings of a factory, and boy, with all of that work, it can get warm.

Plant Metabolism

Plants like these do similar things! These flowers don’t only do photosynthesis, they can metabolize as well! As they ingest nutrients, they metabolize it and produce heat. In fact, they have the ability to increase their surrounding temperature by 50-60°F!

Many plants can metabolize glucose to create heat, but few do it so well as these three snow-melting plants. It’s always a happy sight when we see the purple tops of a crocus bursting through the snow, or the white snow melting away to reveal the milky-white Snowdrops.

As you walk through the woods, see if you can find these marvelous heralds of spring! Skunk Cabbage loves marshy wetlands and Snowdrops love roadsides and small forests.

Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop) is such an iconic late winter flower. Here, in Southeastern PA, we can find this flower blooming in Mid-February through March, even when there’s snow on the ground still!

If you’re looking to add the Skunk Cabbage’s purples and greens or the Snow Drop’s bell-like flowers to your collection, check out my Shop page to place an order!

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1 Comments on “Burn Through Snow – What Flowers Can Do that We Wish We Could Too!”

  1. Pingback: Create your Spring Garden Early with Bulbs! – The Art of Ecology

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