Of the 6 plants that I found blooming in the Hamilton, Ontario area yesterday, all 6 were alien to North America. That is not too surprising as of the 44 plants that I have found in January's past all but 4 were alien. The 4 that were found in other years were all hold overs from warm October, November, and December months.
The only plants that start blooming in January are cultivated Witch Hazel that come from Asia, I think. The one Witch Hazel that I found in bloom yesterday did start blooming in December so it too is a bit of a hold over from last year. That being said, there were two of the imports that were starting to show petals so they may be blooming sometime soon or they may just wait for different weather. I have seen petals start to break from bud and then wait for weeks before actually coming all the way out in years past.
The two plants with flowers that I photographed yesterday have been found in years past during every month of the year during one year or another. They are hardy indeed and both I have found blooming under the snow when I have cleared out places where I knew they grew.
According to Timothy Coffey's "The History and Folklore of North American Wildflowers," the name Groundsel comes from "the Anglo-Saxon groundeswelge, meaning literally, 'ground swallower,' referring to the rapid way the weed spreads." As one can see it is a composite flower that produces many, many seeds from each flower head that is made up of many florets.
According to books I have read, Chickweed was native to Europe but has travelled and grown everywhere Europeans have gone in the world and now lives on every continent including Antarctica and up north of the Arctic Circle. The book "Weeds of Canada" states that 1 Chickweed seed could produce 15 billion offspring in one year. The good news is that one can eat the leaves and feed your chickens on the seeds.
The other plants that I found in bloom yesterday are listed below:
Hairy Bittercress - Cardamine hérisée - (Cardamine hirsuta)
Common Dandelion - Pissenlit officinal - (Taraxicum officinale)
Whitlow Grass - Drave printanière - (Draba verna)
'Winter Dawn' Witch Hazel - Noisetier de sorcière 'Winter Dawn' - (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Winter Dawn')