Spring Wildflower Walk


Is spring three weeks early? That's what we wondered when we planned the wildflower hike this year on Sunday, March 31. Last year's walk on April 17 was the peak of spring blooms. The twelve of us exploring the wildflower wonders of the New River Trail found the same blooms this year on March 31, and more.

Spring happened all at once, as several said, with spring beauty and golden ragwort, hepatica and columbine, bloodroot and fire pink, blooming early and late simultaneously.

Round-Lobed Hepatica - Hepatica americana.

Columbine - Aquilegia canadensis.

Wild ginger multiplied. Last year we found a few. This year, a spreading colony of the unique brown blooms on the ground was already attracting crawling insects.

Wild Ginger - Asarum canadense.

Stinking Benjamin, a.k.a. purple trillium, or wake robin, with its "wet dog" odor, was blanketing the hillsides, in various shades. Another highlight was the three members of the bleeding heart family, Fumariaceae: the inconspicuous but plentiful, yellow corydalis; Dutchmen's breeches, and bleeding heart.

Yellow Corydalis - Corydalis flavula.

Bleeding heart - Dicentra eximia.

Dutchman's breeches - Dicentra cucullaria.

Here's a hint for bloom seekers: cross the Fries Junction bridge and look in the rock crevices, but hurry!

Here is a partial list of what was BLOOMING ALL AT ONCE!
spring beauty
wild ginger
early saxifrage
MINT FAMILY: ground ivy, dead nettle
BUTTERCUP: buttercups, columbine, hepatica, skunk meadow rue
MUSTARD: creasy, toothwort, bittercresses, garlic mustard
trailing arbutus
PINK: chickweeds, fire pink
VIOLETS: sweet white and purple
TRILLIUM: purple
BARBERRY: mayapple, blue cohosh
ASTER: golden ragwort, dandelion, fleabane
BLEEDING HEARTS: yellow corydalis, Dutchmen's breeches, bleeding heart
trout lily

We had two photographers getting down and dirty on bloom level, while the rest of us scouted ahead. Many thanks to Cecelia Mathis for the excellent photos and Charlotte McPherson for assisting.
Carol Broderson: text.
Cecelia Mathis, photos; and Charlotte McPherson, yellow corydalis.