Spring Emergence

This week I found myself excited to find spring wildflowers – Bloodroot, Trout Lilies and Virginia Bluebells on a walk along a bike trail not far from where I live. Wildflowers are a treasure after winter ebbs, even though this past winter has been a mild one according to meteorologists. I long to see growing things bursting forth.

Blood Root (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a native of the eastern United States and is aptly named. When the stem or root is pierced, it is said to put forth a red liquid, hence the reference to blood. The flower will have multi-white petals with a golden yellow center, reaching a height of about 6 to 10 inches.

Below is a photo of Blood Root in bloom taken last year. A truly beautiful wildflower. It’s a member of the poppy family and its blooms are relatively short lived. The flower opens in full light and closes at night. It grows in shade/full shade and prefer moist soil.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are just beginning to bloom in my area. Their foliage covers the hillside near a small stream near me. Flower blooms hide behind tight leaves waiting for warmer weather so they can emerge.

The photo below is from last April and shows the glorious color of the flowers. It always amazes me I can plant and nurture a flower with little success, yet nature can produce this beauty in sometimes the most unusual places with no help at all.

Bluebells are perennials that are in the herb family. They prefer shade/part shade and moist conditions. The flower on the right (below) grew on a riverbank as well.

This year I’ve been mesmerized by the floral buds of the Red Maple (Acer rubrum) tree. I don’t think I have ever realized how truly spectacular they are when you take a close look. In late winter/early spring, the buds open to expose male and female flowers.

The female Red Maple flower is a vivid deep red while the male flower tends to be more orange. In the fall, the foliage of this tree will be a beautiful red color (though some have been known to be yellow as well). Red Maples live to be about 80 to 100 years old on average. Next time you’re out for a walk, take a look at the red maple trees and explore that bloom up close and personal. It’s pretty magnificent!

Another plant I came across this week is one I have considered a non-interesting weed, for lack of a better description. I’ve seen it growing profusely in farm fields and even in my own yard. But when you look more closely at this little plant, you’ll find it has a beautiful flower. It’s Red Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum). It’s a member of the mint family and has fuzzy spade shaped leaves with pink/purple flowers that are just 10 to 18mm. Very tiny little things.

Mason bees and bumble bees visit these little flowers looking for nectar. Next time you see this plant, look closely and you will see the lines inside the flowers which help direct bees inside. Another wonder of nature. Sometimes we overlook what is right in front of us, at least I have done so when it comes to Red Dead Nettle.

I hope you have enjoyed my first blog post, and perhaps I have shared something of interest or something new. And if you found this of interest, perhaps you will request to follow this column in the future.

Until next time, keep exploring nature up close.