My elementary school had a ravine at the rear of the property and getting to spend time there as part of a lesson was always a highlight for this nature-loving girl.
I can still remember very clearly when we did a wildflower unit in first grade and actually got to see some of the flowers in person, right there on the school grounds. You might have some wildflowers growing close to you too.
Spring wildflowers generally bloom throughout Ohio starting in February and going through into June. While some of the earliest blooming species are already done for the year, the peak wildflower bloom time for central Ohio starts right around now.
Here are some of my favorites to look out for:
• Large white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) — With its distinct three white petals, the large white trillium might be one of the most recognizable wildflowers in the state. This species of trillium was designated as the official state wildflower in 1987 and is also the emblem of the Canadian province of Ontario. Large White Trillium can be found in all 88 of Ohio’s counties and can live for as long as 25 years! This plant flowers starting mid- to late-April and is most frequently found in the understory of deciduous forests.
• Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) — This flower gets its name from its resemblance to a pair of white breeches and is related to the bleeding heart plant. The blooms are white with yellow tips. Like lots of other plants, Dutchman’s breeches rely on insects for survival. Bumblebees are uniquely adapted to pollinate this flower as they are able to part the petals and reach far enough inside to access the nectar. Seeds are dispersed by ants, who carry them back to their nests. Dutchman’s breeches are currently in bloom and can be found in the understory of deciduous forests until the end of the month.
• Common blue violet (Viola sororia) — The common blue violet, native to eastern North America, is a bluish-violet wildflower that grows just about anywhere. This compact plant with heart-shaped leaves prefers partially shaded, moist soil and can be found in woods, along stream banks, and in yards. Some might consider this plant a weed- it is known to be hard to eradicate in lawns due to its resistance to herbicides. The common blue violet is edible and is sometimes used in salads or candied to be displayed atop desserts. Blooming is currently in progress and will last through spring and intermittently into summer.
* Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) — Mayapples are plants between 10-16 inches tall with umbrella-like leaves that grow in groups with a common root system. The mayapple gets its name from the May blooming of its single white or pink blossom that resembles that of an apple tree. All parts of the mayapple plant are poisonous with the exception of the ripe yellow berry it produces. Despite its toxicity, Native Americans once used mayapples to treat parasites or induce vomiting. Mayapples can be found in and along shady wooded areas.
We certainly have been getting quite the April showers so here’s to hoping you are able to get out and see some May flowers. To learn more about Ohio wildflowers and get updates of bloom times, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources at http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/wildflowers.
Stay up to date with Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District events by visiting www.delawareswcd.org and you can always stop by 557 A Sunbury Road in Delaware or call 740-368-1921 with conservation questions.
Rebecca Longsmith is Resource Conservationist for the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. She can be reached at [email protected]