ephemeral flowers

Flowers for the Queen (Bee)

Queen bumblebee on purple hyssop by Kimberly Stoner, Ph.D.

Don’t mistake their small size for lack of importance in our quality of life. Queen bumblebees are among the earliest insects to emerge in our area, and their pollinating activity is critical to both them and us.

And if you imagine that early emergence gives them a leg up on the rest of the bees, think again. It actually poses a problem. The queens are their species’ sole support in April, but very few plants blossom at the same time they emerge.

April's wildflowers: Fleeting bright spots in the spring forest

Marsh marigold, Caltha palustris

I've heard them called ephemerals. Indeed, they tend to be small, bright, and short-lived. They sprout on the forest floor, peaking out from beneath leaf litter, or tucked between tree roots or along streams and vernal pools. Here are some that greeted me from April 20 -22 on forays into the woods of a western Pennsylvania town, McMurray, PA.

Please see my native plant series to learn which to plant right now and where to find them. 

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