It would be impossible to pick one native plant I love best in my home state of Michigan. As a group, my favorites are definitely the intrepid little flowers that come out in early spring in the woodlands around my home.
Why I Love the Woods in Spring
I live in the suburbs, but in an older development that left a lot of wooded areas intact. Walks through these areas are nice any time of year, but in spring, when the air and soil begin to warm, it’s a joy to see the first wildflowers appear.
Summer is hands down my favorite time of year, but there is something special about spring. When the first green appears, then the little flowers in the woods, it’s exciting to start anticipating and getting ready for the summer season.
My Favorite Woodland Wildflowers
Of all the native woodland flowers, I do have a few favorites. They’re all lovely, but these are the ones I look for every year with the most anticipation:
- Trillium. The large-flowered white trillium crops up in abundance in my local woods in spring. Groups of these large, three petalled white blooms look like confetti sprinkled over the forest floor. Once in a while I see a less common trillium species. Some of these are threatened or endangered, so it’s extra special to see a snow or painted trillium.
- Spring beauty. The name of this flower says it all. They bloom early, especially in the beech-maple forests in my neighborhood. The flowers of spring beauty are white and delicate with five petals striped with light pink.
- Bloodroot. This name is not so evocative, at least not of the flower. The petals are pure white with a yellow center. Although I have never tried it, sap comes out blood red when you break up the plant. The sap of bloodroot is poisonous.
- Jack in the pulpit. My local woods always have one or two of these flowers. The bloom of Jack in the pulpit is green, so not easy to spot right away. It’s shaped like a pitcher or narrow glass with a stalk emerging from inside, the “Jack” in his pulpit. A hood covers Jack like an umbrella.
- Yellow trout lily. Although not present in my area in large numbers, yellow trout lily are easy to find. The bright yellow flower stands out against the brown forest floor and the plants spotted green leaves.
- Dutchman’s breeches. I have yet to find Dutchman’s breeches in my own neighborhood, but when I venture to a local park, I sometimes spot one. They’re a favorite for the unique flowers, shaped like an upside-down pair of white pants.
There are a few reasons these are my favorite natives. One is that they signal the beginning of spring and the end of winter. Another is that they are simply beautiful flowers. Finally, the ephemeral nature of these beauties makes them even more special.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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