Spring ephemerals at Jay Cooke State Park 5.20.23

Author: Ethan Perry

Photos: Kelly Beaster

Can there be any better way to welcome spring than strolling among early woodland wildflowers? The Arrowhead Native Plant Explorers kicked off the outdoor season on Saturday, May 20 with a walk at Jay Cooke State Park. It was a repeat from last year, and it looks to become an annual tradition.

With some of the warmest temperatures of the year, the leafless trees cast no shade. The flowers are taking advantage of this brief window of time when the light is plentiful. The display is best in rich hardwood forests of maple and basswood that have the densest canopy of any deciduous forest type. In a few weeks some of the plants—like spring beauty, trout lily, wild leeks, and Dutchman’s breeches—will wilt away until next year. Others will grow their leaves and try to capture any summer light that filters through the trees.

Group participants pointed out each new flower we came across, asked questions about their characteristics, and shared knowledge with each other. Highlights included the rare and diminutive musk-root and a single clump of blooming Dutchman’s breeches, thanks to ANPE treasurer Rubin Stenseng who scouted them ahead of time.

Come out next year after the long dark winter and celebrate spring with us again! Better yet, join us next month at Hartley Park when we learn more about foraging for wild foods.

Below is a list of spring flora we observed.

Flowering Plants

White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) (not blooming yet)

Wild Leeks/Ramps (Allium tricoccum) (not blooming yet)

Virginia Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphylla)

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Large-flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

Sessile-leaved Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia)

Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum) (not blooming yet)

Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflora)

Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum) (not blooming yet)

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) (not blooming yet)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia)

Round-lobed Hepatica (Anemone americana)

Rose Twisted Stalk (Streptopus lanceolatus) (not blooming yet)

Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) (not blooming yet)

Musk-root (Adoxa moschatellina)

Downy Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens)

Other Violet (unknown)

Non-flowering Plants

Woodland Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum)

Meadow Horsetail (Equisetum pratense)

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana)

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina)

Spinulose Wood Fern (Dryopteris carthusiana) (last year’s leaves


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