After a long and frightful winter, I was more than ready to start looking for signs of spring. Honestly, I started looking very early in March because I just wanted winter to be behind me, but unfortunately the forest was not ready to wake up just because I wanted it to. Impatiently I waited, always searching the forest for little micro climates that might be a week or two ahead of the rest of the forest. Early April gave me the first sigh of relief as the Spring Beauties bloomed, then the Blood Root and then Spicebush burst into its brilliant chartreuse flowers. Slowly as the month moved forward, the forest awoke with brilliant colors and the chorus of birds returning North. Spring is always full of hope and promise of the things yet to come, and this year, the Sourland Forest gave me the relief that I have desperately been searching for.
Spring Beauties, Claytonia virginica, is always the first spring ephemeral that tells me that spring is on her way.
Blood root, Sanguinaria canadensis, is one of my personal favorites (but lets be honest, I have many MANY favorites) is accompanied by the much sought after Ramps, Allium tricoccum. Now, let us talk just a minute about something very important. DO NOT DIG UP THE RAMPS. I will repeat myself in case someone didn’t understand what I said. DO NOT DIG UP THE RAMPS. The Ramps in this photo are at least 7 years old. AT LEAST! This slow growing plant can have its populations wiped out by irresponsible foragers. The leaves of Ramps have wonderful flavor and if you wish to responsibly harvest, take 1 leaf for every 10 plants you see. Why not take one plant? Well, you are probably not the only person that will come across that particular patch of Ramps, and if everyone took one plant, you again will wipe out the population. Be responsible, love this land and forest and leave the ramp bulbs in the ground so that they can continue to grow, produce seed and spread.
Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, the unbelievably valuable and completely underrated Sourland shrub. This shrub is important for migrating neotropical birds to nest in, as well as provide nectar for early pollinators and food for migratory birds and other forest critters. I am on a personal quest to convince everyone to plant some in their yard to replace their Forsythia. Spicebush, the OG yellow-flowered shrub.
A natural bouquet of Blood root, Sanguinaria canadensis.
My Littlest dude came out to hunt for spring flowers with me too!
The Rue Anenome, Thalictrum thalictroides, was his favorite!
Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, looking other worldly.
Cutleaf Toothwort, Cardamine concatenata, reminds me of a ballerina dancing across a stage.
Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum, dramatic in this morning’s light.
Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides, reaching out newly unfurling fronds like a land octopus!
Virginia Pennywort, Obolaria virginica, diminutive and in danger. This precious flower is one of the threatened species that takes refuge in the Sourlands.
A Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, being held back by the memories of last year. Soon, she will break free and rise above what was left behind.
This was taken during one of my many spring ephemeral walks this year. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by smart, enthusiastic and adventurous women who share my love of plants and are more than happy to spend a wet April morning searching for flowers.
A little Potentilla with a perimeter of dew.
Wood Anemone, Anemone quinquefolia, a master of being both shy and flirtatious.
This Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, was the absolute highlight of my spring flowers! I squealed and ran to it like a child runs to an ice cream truck. I have never seen this stunning native flower in the wild. I purchased a few from Wild Ridge Plants last year because I think they are just absolutely beautiful, but to see it in the wild… the best cherry on top I could dream of.