The wooded trail was still mostly ice-packed on March 12, although some brown bare spots were starting to appear. Always with an eye to the edge of the trail, I was walking along when something yellowish-green captured my attention.
I peered through some balsam fir boughs, and there on the forest floor were about a dozen or more leaves amid rusty pine needles and withered red maple leaves. They were broadly oval in shape and were 2-3 inches long. The base of the leaves, where the leaf blade attached to the stem, were heart shaped (although sometimes they can be round).
Like the crocuses and tulips that come up spring after spring in your yard, so does this wildflower, the trailing arbutus.
It is a perennial that lives for multiple years. The leaves seen in March are last year’s leaves. The plant is considered an evergreen plant, since the leaves remain green throughout the winter and into the following spring. On March 12, a few of the leaves on the trailing arbutus I found had rusty patches, which is not unusual in late winter or very early spring. The new leaves unfold in June, and in their turn will be next winter’s evergreen leaves.