I just got an email from my favorite nursery, Prairie Moon, that there are county-by county range maps online now for every plant in their catalogue. The result: immediate loss of focus on anything else.
I used to think that the prickly pears on West Rock in the New Haven area of CT were the northernmost in the Connecticut River Valley. But now the Biota of North America Program (BONAP) is telling me via this map that they grow as far north as Hampden County!! (Bright green is “grows in county,” dark green is, “grows in state, not believed to be present in county”) My guesses about where are a) somewhere in the Mt. Tom Range on the west-facing cliffs (probably hanging out with the copperheads); b) on some little sandplain I don’t know about down in the valley floor; c) on the crazy, jagged rock formations to the north where the Mass Pike crosses the Westfield River or (least likely) d) in the little pine barrens you drive through on the Pike near the Westfield/US 202 exit.
When the snow melts, I’ll be going a-looking. In other news, rumors have circulated of the year’s first Turkey Vulture sightings in New England. It’s almost spring.