It’s that magical time of year again! Spring’s first wildflowers are beginning to wake up and the Wildflower Bloom Report is back to guide you through one of nature’s most magical experiences. While things start slow it won’t be long before the trickle becomes a flood of blooms, returned birds, and renewed life throughout the buckeye state. Be sure to check in every Friday through mid-May for details and photos on what wildflowers are in bloom throughout the state and the best places to seek them out. No matter where you live in Ohio, you’re never far from some quality wildflower displays in our state nature preserves, state parks, and state forests!
The first native wildflower to bloom each spring is skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). In fact, it’s been blooming for well over a month and can be seen at numerous sites throughout the state such as Cedar Bog, Boch Hollow, Lou Campbell, and Eagle Creek state nature preserves. The uniquely shaped flowers emit a foul skunk-like odor that does a tremendous job of attracting early pollinators. Even more unique 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.
Another highly anticipated early bloomer is the dainty snow trillium (Trillium nivale). The fact it blooms early enough to be snow covered is how this beauty got its common name. Snow trillium has a special place in Ohio’s natural history with the species being described to science from Ohio plants along the Scioto River in the 1830’s. Now’s the time to see this wonder with many of southern Ohio’s populations at peak. Prime locations to see this trillium include Clifton Gorge and Miller State Nature Preserves. The Arc of Appalachia’s Chalet Nivale and Barrett’s Rim preserves are excellent spots as well.
As usual the wildflower season first begins in southern Ohio before moving north as the days warm and lengthen. While things are just beginning, we’re still getting reports of a nice diversity of wildflowers already in bloom such as white trout-lily (Erythronium albidum), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba), harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa), rue-anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), yellow fumewort (Corydalis flavula), early saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), and purple cress (Cardamine douglassii).
Early sites and locations to visit to see many of these first bloomers include Whipple, Shoemaker, Davis Memorial, Scioto Brush Creek and Miller State Nature Preserves. Even preserves a bit further north like Lake Katharine, Shallenberger, and Rhododendron Cove have things waking up. A can’t-miss wildflower show through the month of April is the Arc of Appalachia’s Ohio River Bluffs Preserve with incredible blankets of numerous spring ephemerals.
Lastly, we can report that the rare and beautiful golden-star lily (Erythronium rostratum) is just beginning to bloom at the Gladys Riley Goldenstar Lily Preserve in Scioto Co. This is the only public site in the state to see this state endangered species with its golden yellow blooms. This wildflower will kick into gear over the next week and is well worth a visit!
We hope this first report has inspired you to get out and seek out these early wildflowers. Those in the southern parts of the state get served first but it won’t be long before things move north. Spring is finally here!
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 #OhioSpringWildflowers. You can follow @OhioNaturalAreas_ScenicRivers and @OhioDNR on Instagram, @OhioFindItHere and @OhioDNR on Twitter, and the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves on Facebook to see more wildflower photos and signs of spring!