What's Blooming Now? (Woodland Edition)

Want to learn your wildflowers?  Read on for some ID tips.  The following photos were taken March 31-April 2, 2017.  Disclaimer: I am not a real botanist but I like to pretend.

Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica

What to look for: This one's pretty straightforward.  Large, bell-shaped flowers changing from pink to blue as they develop.  Large, entire leaves (no teeth or lobes).

Dutchman's Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria

What to look for: Ferny leaves.  White flowers shaped like upside-down pants.  Bulb is spiky and hot-pink.  Related to Bleeding Hearts.

Squirrel corn, Dicentra canadensis

What to look for: A cousin of the Dutchman's breeches.  Ferny leaves, white, heart-shaped flowers.  It gets its name from the yellow, corn-like bulb--an easy way to tell it from the breeches when they aren't blooming.

Prairie trillium or Bloody butcher, Trillium recurvatum

What to look for: All trilliums have three leaves, three petals, and three sepals.  Just remember that on a prairie trillium, the sepals point "down to the prairie."  It has mottled leaves, each on a short stem.  This distinguishes it from its cousin Toadshade (Trillium sessile) which has stemless leaves with the sepals sitting on top.

Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis

What to look for: A stunning white flower with 8-12 petals.  The leaf is large, similar to a wild ginger but deeply lobed.  It seems to wrap around the stem.  When cut, the roots and lower stem will bleed a poisonous bloody sap.

Sharp-lobed hepatica, Anemone hepatica or Hepatica acutiloba

What to look for: Delicate white, pink, or purple flower with 5-10 leaves (easily lost after a rain).  Furry stem.  Odd three-lobed leaves.

Spring beauty, Claytonia virginica

What to look for: White or pink flowers with 5 petals.  Long, grass-like leaves.

Cutleaf toothwort, Cardamine concatenata

What to look for: White or pink flowers with 4 petals in a cross-like formation (hence the name crucifers for the Brassicaceae or mustard family).  You will also see the four petals on the other mustards, such as garlic mustard or bittercress.  Longish leaves with jagged edges.

Rue anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides

What to look for: White or pink flower with 5-10 petals.  Each central flower often has two or three mini flowers to either side of it.  Hand-shaped leaves with shallow lobes.

False rue anemone, Enemion biternatum

What to look for: White or pink flower with only five petals (as opposed to the many petals of the true rue).  Leaves more deeply lobed than on true rue.  False rue anemone is colonial, so when you see one you will see many.  Note also the garlic mustard making its way into the patch.  Garlic mustard is highly invasive and allelopathic, which means that it produces poisons that kill the underground fungal community, preventing new trees from growing.

Star chickweed, Stellaria pubera

What to look for: Small white flower with five deeply-cleft petals (so that there appear to be ten petals).  We have several species of chickweed in our woods, including the invasive common chickweed.

Yellow trout lily or Dogtooth violetErythonium americanum

What to look for: Yellow, lily-like flower.  Long, mottled leaves.  Immature plants have only one leaf; when they are 4-7 years old they will grow the second leaf and flower.  Trout lilies grow in colonies that can be up to 300 years old.

Short-spurred corydalis, Corydalis flavula

What to look for: Small yellow flowers with mismatched lips.  Fern-like leaves.  This is in the fumitory family just like Dutchman's breeches and squirrel corn.

Blue phlox (or woodland phlox), Phlox divaricata

What to look for: Purple flower with five petals, sometimes cleft at the tips.  If the cleft is deeper than 1/4 the length of the petal (and if the flower is more spreading than erect), the plant is Cleft phlox (Phlox bifida).

Wild or spreading chervil, Chaerophyllum procumbens

What to look for: Fern-like leaves with tiny white flowers.

Violets, Viola sp.

What to look for: Your common yard violets.  We have many species in Harrison County and it takes a good eye to tell them apart.  These are probably Downy yellow violet (Viola pubescens) and Common blue violet (Viola sororia), the latter of which can be purple or white, but not truly blue.


Bishop's cap or Two-leaf mitrewort, Mitella diphylla

What to look for: Tiny, lacy white flowers on a tall stalk (a raceme).  Rounded, coarsely-toothed leaves.  I can't wait to see these buds open!

Early meadow rue, Thalictrum diocium

What to look for: Leaves similar to the rue anemone, but larger.  The whole plant seems more like a tiny shrub than a flower.  Dangling greenish flowers with no petals but with long sepals.  This is the first year I've found this one so I'm pretty excited to see it bloom!

Sessile bellwort, Uvularia sessifolia

What to look for: Droopy, pale yellow flowers (reminiscent of a wilted trout lily).  Long, narrow, stemless leaves.  Its cousin the large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) is "perfoliate," meaning that the stems seem to pass right through the middle of the leaves.

Drooping trillium, Trillium flexipes

Both of our red trilliums have mottled leaves, so this is most likely a white drooping trillium, though without a flower it is hard to say for sure.  We have one other species in Harrison with a white, drooping flower, snow trillium (Trillium nivale), so-called because it blooms as early as February.  It has a much smaller flower than drooping trillium.

Nature Club, for children in 1st grade and up, meets monthly on Thursdays at 4 PM.  Visit this link to see our current schedule and sign up!

Previous nature blogs:

Frogs and Toads of Harrison County

Spider Identification

Springtime nature tips for the family

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