Ever since that course, I've been on the look out for Draba. Draba is a tiny, white flowering mustard that blooms in early spring. Aldo Leopold, in Sand County Almanac, had this to say about Draba.
"He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba. He who despairs of spring with downcast eye steps on it, unknowingly. He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance."
Of course, it's been awhile since I took that flowering plant taxomony course, and I'm beginning to forget some of the plants I once knew. Imagine my excitement then, while I thought I found Draba in my backyard! I snapped some photos and got out my taxonomy books to figure out what species was growing in my backyard. The more I looked, the more I couldn't determine what Draba this was (and I began to get a sneaking suspiscion that the plant in my backyard was not actually Draba, but something different). After an hour or so of working through my plant keys (yes, I am actually that geeky), I disappointing realized that what I had in my backyard was Cardamine hirsuta. Cardamine hirstua is common weed species found in disturbed areas and is native to Europe. Oh well, it was still neat to understand a little more about the wildlife in our backyard, and I'm back on the hunt for Draba.
Cardamine hirstua growing in our backyard. I still had to get down on my knees in the mud, and I found it plenty abundant. But, definitely not Draba.