Beauties of Spring

Watching for early wildflowers

by Shane Gibson, Environmental Education Director

This article originally appeared in the winter/spring 2020 issue of The Twig, our member newsletter. To see more articles and past issues, click here.

American Indians have been known to make special teas or “spring tonics” to rejuvenate the spirit after a long winter. A walk in a springtime woods can be good for the soul, too.

A spring woods is a marvelous place to visit. The warming temperatures bring us the drip, drip, drip of maple sap, a wild turkey’s gobble, a chorus of frogs, the Woodcock sky dance, morels exploding through the forest floor, and an array of wildflowers.

Harmony School students on a spring ephemerals hike at Porter West Preserve | Shane Gibson

The array of woodland wildflowers that take advantage of the small window between thawing temperatures (snowmelt in some regions) and leaf-out are called spring ephemerals. They use this small window of time to leaf out, flower, be pollinated, and produce seed before they die back to their underground parts. There are many specialized insects, birds, and mammals that help these plants reproduce.

Bottomland of blue
Sure looks delicious
For a nectar-loving bee
With a long proboscis

Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica) from Wake Up, Woods

To enjoy spring beauties, Dutchman’s breeches, trilliums, bloodroot, green dragons, and more, visit a springtime woods on your own or join Sycamore Land Trust and other southern Indiana organizations for scheduled spring wildflower hikes. Grab your Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and a copy of Wake Up, Woods (Harris/Homoya/Gibson) to identify these wildflowers and the animal species that interact with them.

Spring 2020 flower hikes:

  • April 17-19: Owen Co. Wildflower Weekend
  • April 21: Woodland Wildflower Hike, Sycamore Land Trust
  • April 24-26: Brown Co. Wildflower Foray

Learn more on our events calendar.

Dutchman’s breeches at the Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve | Chris Fox