Above the cliffs of Starved Rock, high above the Illinois River and the extinct villages of the Kaskaskia in the lowlands, the woods remain much as they have been for many thousands of years. Now it is the end of March. It has been cold and rainy; there have been late snows and winds ou1 of Medicine Hat which ruffled the feathers of the early hermit thrush and quelled the small songs of the first myrtle warblers on their way to the north woods. A few shadbush flowers have come out, bu1 little else shows any evidence that March is at an end and tomorrow April will move into the woods and perform the transfiguration of winter into spring.
Erigenia bulbosa (Michx.) Nutt.
Early spring Woods cliffs.
Now, as if the hand of April already had touched the cold ground here and there a host of tiny white flowers have opened in the pale sunshine. Harbinger-of-spring has arrived; now April may come and find the stage already set for Aprillian miracles.
Harbinger-of-spring, a member of the Parsley family, is found not very commonly in Illinois, hut in its chosen spots of cool deciduous woods, as at Starved Rock State Park or Funk's Grove, it spreads until the ground for a few short spring days is covered with the delicate plants and their clusters of flowers. The stem is smooth and simple, unbranched. At the top of it- imposing length of perhaps two inches, there are two or three compound, finely cut. smooth green leaves; just above them are the little Clusters of delicate white flowers.
In midsummer they would he ignored. Hut in late March and early April when few things have been in bloom since the last of the asters in October, the tiny, scented white flowers of harbinger-of-spring are very welcome. The name Erigenia mean- literally, "born in the spring."