As the days get longer and warmer, all sorts of spring wildflowers are starting to grow. With the stay-at-home order in effect, walking on some of the local trails is a great way to take a break, get fresh air, and enjoy some beautiful scenery. Please remember to look but don’t touch. Forest wildflowers don’t transplant well into a sunny flowerbed and it’s illegal to pick some trilliums – they’re protected by law!
Our provincial flower, the white trillium, has three green leaves that make a triangle with the white flower in the centre. There’s also a red-flowered trillium. Cool facts: trillium seeds are spread by ants, and the white trillium is a favourite food of white-tailed deer!
Liverwort (Hepatica sp.) doesn’t sound very pretty but the lavender blossoms are some of the very early blooms we may find. The hairy stems rise about 10 cm from three-lobed leathery leaves.
Another flower to look for is bloodroot. It has one deeply lobed leaf that curls around the emerging flower, which has 8-12 white petals. The root has red sap, but it’s poisonous – don’t touch!
Trout lily (adder’s tongue or dogtooth violet) has six long yellow petals and is found in rich woods. Its pointy leaves are mottled like the skin of a trout, hence the name.
Roadsides and gravelly places are often colonized by coltsfoot. Its yellow flowers are often confused with dandelions, but the scaly stalk, absence of leaves, or emerging round heart-shaped leaves, help clear up any confusion.
Another pretty yellow flower, also with round leaves, is marsh marigold. Found in wet places, it has five petals, several waxy heart-shaped leaves on the flower stem and grows in clumps.
With three leaves forming a triangle much like a trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit sometimes gives a moment of confusion. However, the flower is completely different. It’s a striped purple-green tube and canopy surrounding the green club-shaped “Jack”.
All of these lovely blooms emerge before the trees leaf out, taking advantage of the bright sun before shade takes over. They are fragile beauties, each and every one. Please stay on the trails and paths, take nothing but photos and memories, and leave only your footprints.
All photos by Nancy Melcher.
Nancy Melcher is The Nature Nut. Send details of your sightings or questions about the natural world to: firstname.lastname@example.org