Woodland Wildflowers

Spring wildflowers are a varied lot, many graced with fanciful names that fire the imaginations of children and adults.

April 30, 2017 | | Notes from the Wild

In quiet sylvan haunts, lovely wildflowers are pushing through leaf mold and unfurling perfect leaves to the caress of the spring sun. Woodland wildflowers hold special appeal because their beauty is so fleeting. Most bloom for only a few short weeks in April and May, between snowmelt and the leafing out of deciduous trees.

They are a varied lot, many graced with fanciful names that fire the imaginations of children and adults alike: Dutchman’s breeches, mayapple, trout lily, gaywings, bloodroot, foamflower, stinking Benjamin.

Some are bold and obvious. Our provincial wildflower, the white trillium for example, flaunts its presence with brilliant flowers. Others are delightfully coy – floral jewels scattered serendipitously among emerald moss and lacy ferns.

Wildflowers shelter under canopies of oaks, maples, ash and beech. They in turn shelter shrews, red efts, wood frogs and star-nosed moles. Above, the virtuoso calls of wood thrushes and winter wrens resound – lovely music to complement the wildflowers’ beauty.

Some spring wildflowers like it wet. The canary-coloured marsh marigolds illuminate banks of streams that flow like liquid crystal through the woodlands. In these aquatic ribbons, other lovely things dwell. Brook trout flash among watercress, rising to the surface to gobble unwary bugs. Gorgeous rainbow darters rest on gravel beds, glowing in hues of blue and orange. They jostle for space with google-eyed sculpin in the cool, oxygen-filled water.

Jack-in-the-pulpits open their whimsical blooms in moist areas as well. Sometimes the Jacks look down into limpid pools where delicate fairy shrimp backstroke through the water.

Woodland wildflowers buoy our spirits, but we should appreciate them for more than their beauty. They are also indicators of healthy habitats where wonderful creatures creep, fly, sing and swim. A trillium is not only a trillium. It’s also a beacon, signalling biodiversity and ecological well-being.

TroutLilies Red Trillium aka Stinking Benjamin MarshMarigold Jack in the Pulpit GayWings Foamflower Dutchman's Breeches Bloodroot
Red trillium aka stinking Benjamin

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

Related Stories

Jack in the Pulpit

Jack in the Pulpit

May 14, 2012 | Don Scallen | Notes from the Wild

These plants can switch genders throughout their lives in response to growing conditions.

Spring’s Wild Beauties

Mar 31, 2013 | Don Scallen | Environment

The heart-gladdening beauty of early wildflowers is a signal all is right in the woodland. Which one is your favourite?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to vjones@inthehills.ca.