The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and splashes of beautiful colors are beginning to appear in the parks.
Spring wildflowers bloom for only a short period of time, and our goal is to spot as many as we can!
Here are five beautiful ephemera you can find on your spring adventures:
Although they are quite low to the ground, these first upturned flowers are sure to catch your eye at the edge of many Ontario trails.
A member of the poppy family, bloodroot gets its name from its deep red rhizomes, stems running underground, and bright orange sap. Touching the plant can cause skin irritation, so it is best to appreciate this flower from afar.
You can expect bloodroot to bloom in mid-April; however, with a mild spring, they may appear even earlier! It is best to get out and see them quickly, as their white flowers may only last 10 to 12 days.
You may have already seen these wildflowers poking through piles of leaves in your nearest green space! Hepatica, commonly known as liver leaf, is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in spring.
Hepatica varies in color, from pink to white, from blue to purple.
Two species are found in central and southern Ontario: the round-lobed Hepatica and the sharp-lobed Hepatica. Both are almost indistinguishable without their leaves.
Simply put: Round-lobed Hepatica has round leaves and sharp-lobed Hepatica has pointed leaves.
3. Marsh Marigold
Walking on a boardwalk through a swampy area or near the water’s edge?
You’re sure to come across a patch of these bright yellow flowers. Marsh marigolds are found throughout the province, that is, everywhere where there is a lot of water and sun.
Although they start blooming a little later than the other spring ephemerals on this list, Marsh Marigolds can be found blooming into September.
Did you know that marsh marigolds are related to the marigolds you can plant in your garden? They are actually in the buttercup family, but Marsh Marigold plants can grow larger than their smaller cousins.
Possibly the most identifiable wildflower on this list (it is the provincial flower, after all), trilliums are often found in the understory of forests.
Although you may be most familiar with the White Trillium, there are actually five native trillium species found in Ontario: White Trillium, Red Trillium, Painted Trillium, Drooping Trillium, and Nodding Trillium.
Northern Ontarians may want to plan a trip to a southern park to witness its beauty; White Trilliums are only found in the southern part of the province.
Want to learn more fun facts about trilliums? Check out this blog dedicated to our provincial flower!
5. trout lily
You can’t miss these spectacular beauties popping up all over Ontario!
Like trillium, yellow trout lilies can most often be found in the understory of a deciduous forest.
The yellow flower of the trout lily will open in the morning and close at night. If you go looking at flowers on a particularly bright and sunny day, you may find their petals curved all the way back towards the stem!
If you find a spot with numerous trout lilies, you may see the slightly rarer white trout lily, which is a visually similar species except for its white petals.
Look, don’t touch!
If you see a beauty in bloom, feel free to take a photo or draw the flower, but don’t pick it. Ontario’s wildflowers are essential to maintaining our ecological integrity, and picking flowers in provincial parks is illegal.
Remember: take only photographs, leave only footprints.
yellow trout lily
Having trouble identifying a wildflower (or any other mysterious living thing) in the parks?
Take a photo and tweet us using #AskAnOPNaturalist, and our naturalists will help you identify it!