From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Spring has sprung! With a more mild than normal winter our earliest spring wildflowers are already popping throughout the southern parts of the state. That means it’s time for the Wildflower Bloom Report to reappear as well. Every Friday through mid-May we will bring you all the details on what wildflowers are in bloom and the best places to seek them out. Ohio has plenty to offer in our state nature preserves, state parks, state forests etc. with some of the best spring shows around.
The bloom report will be organized into South, Central, and North categories to best track what’s happening in your region. Spring always gets going in our southern reaches first before gradually moving northward. We will feature a different state nature preserve each week as well as on-the-trail videos, pollinator and host plant highlights, and more! We aim to be your go to source for wildflower displays.
Ohio’s first native blooming wildflower, skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), began blooming in southern Ohio as early as mid-January. This wildflower occurs in wetland habitats such as swamp woods, fens, and seeps. Skunk cabbage gets its name by the fetid odor from the flowers and broken foliage. While a turn-off to us, it highly attractive to its pollinators such as flies and beetles. Another neat skunk cabbage fact is the flower’s thermogenic abilities. Through cellular respiration the flowers release heat into its immediate environment to thaw soil and melt snow to get a head start on the growing season. Some of the easier places to see this early bloomer are Cedar Bog, Boch Hollow, Christmas Rocks, Gallagher Fen, and Lou Campbell state nature preserves.
Additionally, we can report nearly a dozen native wildflowers already in bloom in southernmost Ohio. These include: harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa), white trout-lily (Erythronium albidum), purple cress (Cardamine douglassii), Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) early saxigrage (Micranthus virginiensis), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), round-lobed (Hepatica americana) and sharp-lobed hepaticas (Hepatica acutiloba). The best places to see most of these early bloomers include: East Fork State Park, Whipple State Nature Preserve, Ohio River Bluffs Nature Preserve owned by The Arc of Appalachia, and Shawnee State Forest.
One last note is the appearance of our daintiest and earliest trillium, the snow trillium (Trillium nivale). It gets its name for the fact that it appears so early it will often get covered in a late snow while in full flower. Snow trillium has a special place in Ohio’s history with the species being discovered and described to science from plants growing along the Scioto River outside Columbus back in the 1830’s. Great places to see this trillium are Miller State Nature Preserve, Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, and the Arc of Appalachia’s Chalet Nivale Nature Preserve in Adams County. The snow trilliums are already going strong at Chalet so now is the time!
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.
Image by Mariya Muschard from Pixabay