What a crazy week it was as winter made a surprise return! Despite the below freezing temperatures and regional snow fall throughout the Buckeye state, our native early bloomers are well adapted to handle Ohio’s unpredictable weather patterns.
Unfortunately, that stretch of cloudy skies and continued cold didn’t deliver the conditions that new bloomers need to show their colors just yet. The return to winter weather wasn’t all bad news for spring ephemerals; early bloomers such as snow trillium and golden-star lily are able to stick around awhile longer before beginning their inevitable decline.
Speaking of the golden-star lily (Erythronium rostratum), it’s our featured “bloom of the week.” Related to the trout lily, this flower is as rare as it is stunning. Endangered in Ohio, its yellow flower and mottled leaves are like the common yellow trout lily (E. americanum). Golden-stars have flowers facing up towards the sky, tepals (undifferentiated petals and sepals) that are not reflexed, and their mature fruit capsules have a small beak at the end. Yellow trout lilies have shy dangling flowers with curled tepals and their fruit capsules lack a beak.
Golden-stars typically bloom from the last week of March into the first week of April and are only known to grow in a very small area of Scioto and Adams counties. The newly dedicated 186-acre, Gladys Riley Golden Star Lily State Nature Preserve, is owned and managed by the Arc of Appalachia and offers a wonderful opportunity for wildflower enthusiasts and is worth a trek to see golden-stars in person! If you visit, the new preserve has more than 2 miles of trails which take visitors through a forest showcasing hundreds of golden-star lilies growing alongside other spring gems, such as giant blue cohosh, bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, squirrel-corn, and yellow violet.
The southern region of Ohio report a few more species this week, but overall progress for new bloomers slowed. Dutchman’s breeches, yellow trout lily, and common blue violet made their first appearances of the season, and it’s only just beginning! There have even been sightings of large-flowered trillium in bud, with some ready to open.
Wildflowers, such as white trout lily, bloodroot, spring beauty, yellow fumewort, harbinger-of-spring, sharp-lobed hepatica, rue-anemone, and giant cohosh, are beginning to show in greater numbers. The Arc of Appalachia’s Ohio River Bluffs preserve in Adams County reports that Virginia bluebells are waking up and may hit peak bloom there in the next week or two.
Snow trillium can still be seen blooming across the region, but their bloom time has peaked and will soon wane. With cooler temperatures, now might be the time to see them in bloom this year.
Some excellent spots to seek out spring’s first bloomers in this region include Davis Memorial, Lake Katharine, Miller, Shoemaker, Scioto Brush Creek, and Whipple state nature preserves. For those who prefer a vast forest to visit, check out Shawnee State Forest in Scioto County—in early Spring, it’s a carpet of wildflowers. Live in the Cincinnati area? A great bet for early bloomers is along the trails at Bender Mountain Preserve in Hamilton County.
Experiencing similar “pause on Spring” conditions, central Ohio is still showing signs that Spring has sprung! As with the southern region, many of the same species are beginning to blanket woodland floors including white trout-lily, bloodroot, harbinger-of-spring, sharp-lobed hepatica, snow trillium, Virginia bluebells, and spring beauty.
A fun plant to look for this time of year are ramps—also known as wild leeks—their green leaves are beginning to appear alongside the early wildflowers.
This week’s suggestions for exceptional wildflower viewing include Blackhand Gorge, Christmas Rocks, Clifton Gorge, Davey Woods, Gallagher Fen, and Shallenberger state nature preserves. State parks are another great spot for a quick wildflower hike. Check out the trails at Alum Creek, Delaware, Cowan Lake, John Bryan (adjacent to Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, you’ll get two great spots in one trip), or Malabar Farm state parks.
Despite all the flowers popping up in the bottom two-thirds of the state, folks in northern Ohio will have to be patient just a bit longer. Having experienced the coldest temperatures the longest this past week, there’s still not much to report. Like last week, the skunk cabbage is still going strong with harbinger-of-spring and spring beauties popping up.
With some warmer weather, it will soon be time to visit prime wildflower sites. A few great places to view northern Ohio’s early wildflower blooms include Augusta-Anne Olsen, Eagle Creek, Goll Woods, Johnson Woods, Kendrick Woods, Lawrence Woods, and Lou Campbell state nature preserves.
The Ohio Wildflower Bloom Report is updated weekly from March to the middle of May. We encourage you to take spring wildflower photos and upload them to social media using the hashtag #OhioWildflowers. You can follow @OhioDNAP and @OhioDNR on Instagram, @OhioFindItHere and @OhioDNR on Twitter, and the OhioDNAP on Facebook. Find individual wildflower pages at Ohiodnr.gov. You can also use our handy spring wildflower checklist to track what you’re seeing in the field.