Have you ever been hiking in the spring and wondered just what type of flowers were blooming along the trail?
You’re not alone. As you walk by on your way to the next scenic spot, take time to explore the explosion of new growth that lies among your boots.
You just might find that identifying these 8 wildflowers will open up a whole new layer to your hiking experience.
As mentioned in a earlier post, kids and adults love to be able to assign names to things. Being able to identify these wildflowers will make them more intimate and memorable. It will, also, give future trails the feeling of connection and familiarity.
The following wildflowers are easy to recognize among the new growth, but for more detailed descriptions I highly suggest the Peterson Field Guide: Wildflowers or the more concise and simpler to use Peterson First Guides: Wildflowers.
I always carry the first one on any spring hike. Even after all these years exploring I still come across wildflowers that I have never seen before. Always a thrill!
1. Dutchman’s Breeches
Wonderful name for this unique flower.
Imagine a pair of white pants hung on a clothesline and you can easily identify this flower. Also, look for its “fern-like” leaves that spread below the breeches.
Where to Find: Rim Rock Trail
Trout in the forests of the Shawnee Hills?
No, but these picturesque wildflowers receive their name from the brownish spots that are characteristic of their leaves.
Look for its yellow drooping flower on a long stem between two spotted leaves.
Where to find: Round Bluff Nature Preserve
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Gruesome images may appear when the name of this wildflower slips off the tongue, but it actually a pleasing flower to identify.
This one is an early bloomer. This 8-10 petaled white flower, has a bright yellow center, that is cupped by a single leaf.
Where to Find: Cedar Creek Trail
4. Spring Beauty
This wildflower has a tough name to live up to, but somehow this small wonder manages to do it.
This is the other early bird. A small white flower sometimes with deep pink veins can be seen carpeting by the thousands in an early spring forest.
Where to Find: Very prevalent throughout the Shawnee Hills
5. Dwarf Larkspur
This wildflower may not have a politically correct name, but what it lacks in stature it makes up with volume of flowers on top of its thin stalk.
These whimsical horn-like flowers have a deep purple/bluish tint that have 5-7 clusters near the top. This wildflower is one of a kind and can be seen rarely in white.
Where to Find: McCann Springs – LaRue Pine Hills
6. Prairie Trillium
Not many prairies in this neck of the woods, but don’t let the name fool you they grow in abundance here.
The deep maroon flame-like flower is unmistakable. Look for three leaves that surround the flower.
Toadshade is similar, but its leaves have no stalk and hug close to the flower.
Where to Find: Big Rocky Hollow Trail – Ferne Clyffe State Park
7. Blue Violet
The blue violet is not so much blue as it is purple.
There are many different violets that pop up in the Shawnee Hills, but this is one of the first.
The flower of the blue violet lies low to the ground and can cover a forest floor. Look for deep veins in the lower petal and its 5 distinct petals.
Where to Find: Ghost Dance Canyon – Dixon Springs State Park
8. White Trillium
You will know this one when you see it. It is one of the more “showy” flowers of the bunch.
The white trillium doesn’t like to be by itself so its has many of its fellow friends around it.
Like the Prairie Trillium is has 3 large leaves that give way to an uprising flower, but instead of a flame-like flower the white trillium has an upright 3 petal flower.
Where to Find: The aptly named Trillium Trail – Giant City State Park
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