Long time local botanist Betty Horn sent me an email some days back--February 10, to be exact--reporting that she had just found a hepatica blooming in Herrontown Woods. Hepaticas in early February? This was news.
Without asking, I knew nearly exactly where she had found it. If you're a field botanist, you maintain a mental map of where you've found certain special plants growing, and in Princeton, my mental map has exactly one location for hepaticas, along the ridge in Herrontown Woods. Sure enough, she had found it there, given a head start by the warmth of a nearby boulder and the snowless winter.
Hearing the news, another botanist friend, Fairfax Hutter, checked out some hepaticas she knows of in Hopewell. No flowers, nor any buds, she reported. Betty looked back at her records and told me that "the usual time for hepaticas to bloom is early to mid March, and sometimes as late as the first week in April."