By Barbara Walvoord
Spring woodland wildflowers face two problems:
- They can’t bloom before the soil is thawed
- They can’t bloom after the tree canopy cuts off their sunlight.
Between these two events, nature provides a window, because forest ground, under its leaf litter, freezes more shallowly and thaws more quickly than ground in open fields, and because forest trees need a while to get their sap up to the top and form their leaves. So if the wildflower hurries, it can get its bloom in before heavy shade.
And hurry they do. Spring wildflowers, called “ephemerals” for good reason, can leaf, bloom, and fruit within a few-week window.
Native wildflowers blooming now in our Lathrop woods include Canada mayflower, trout lily, skunk cabbage, hepatica, and violet. If you see alien garlic mustard, which will crowd out these natives, pull it out!