wildflower

Slow down to see spring's ephemeral flowers

Bumblebee on bush honeysuckle. Photo: Kimberly Stoner, Ph.D.

Big bursts of yellow forsythia call out to us in late April, like billboards for spring, easy to see as we fly by in cars, trains, or on bicycles.

It's a welcome sight, but the picture is missing something. Forsythia is not native to our area—and, therefore, not of life-nurturing importance to some of the most endangered regional insects, the early-emerging bees, butterflies, flies, wasps, and moths that are known to insect scientists as "feeding specialists." Some of these choosy creatures rely on early-blossoming native flowers for pollen and other support.

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

Red Trillium, Trillium erectum

I've heard them called ephemerals. Indeed, they tend to be small, bright, and short-lived. Aside from providing us with a pop of color in the still-brown landscape, spring ephemerals provide sustenance to early insects such as queen bumblebees. Ephemerals sprout in unlikely places, peaking out from beneath leaf litter, between tree roots, along streamsides, and in vernal pools. Here are some that greeted me from April 20 -22.

See more articles on spring ephemerals:

Slow down to see spring's ephemeral flowers

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