Wildflower

Common ephemeral wildflowers in Minnesota include wood anemone (pictured).

Although in Minnesota it’s never really safe to say that winter is over, spring is certainly on the horizon.

With warmer weather comes migrating birds, fresh maple sap, and the return of seasonal plant life in the understory.

New and reemerging plants begin to appear on the forest floor in late March and early April, and many of the most impressive species are considered spring ephemeral wildflowers.

Spring ephemeral wildflowers are beautiful woodland plants that bloom only for a short period of time early in the growing season. Many different varieties can be found in Minnesota in the spring, and because of their acute size could easily go unnoticed. But each one of these noteworthy plants has its own striking appearance and unique features.

Many visitors at the Lowry Nature Center first take an interest in spring wildflowers to appreciate their brief rich colors or for nature photography. These flowers also play an important role in the natural world by providing nectar to the first active pollinators each year.

Some spring ephemerals are named for their unique features and thankfully this can help when it comes to identifying each. For example, Dutchman’s breeches, which flowers in the early spring, resembles a pair of upside-down trousers. Bloodroot on the other hand, blooms for only a few days and has dark red sap in its stem that can be used to create natural dyes.

Other common ephemeral wildflowers in Minnesota include wood anemone, trout lily, and trillium.

If searching for any of these species later this spring, I would recommend taking a hike on the Oak Trail, Aspen Trail, or Maple Trail at the Lowry Nature Center.

While doing so, keep a keen eye on the sides of the trails for these remarkable wildflowers before they’re gone.

Josh Sweet is an office support assistant with the Lowry Nature Center. He can be reached with questions at Joshua.Sweet@threeriversparks.org. Take 5 for Nature is a quarterly column from staff at the Lowry Nature Center, part of Three Rivers Park District, located in Victoria. The column aims to provide readers with information about what is taking place in the natural world around us.

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