Watching for wildflowers as spring springs/Brian Hess

It’s been kind of a long, grueling winter this year in my book. We didn’t break any snowfall records, at least not yet, but according to we received 338.5 inches of snow this winter. That’s nothing to shake a stick at.

I hate to let my guard down but I think we can declare winter over. The 10-day weather forecast has highs nearing 60 for Calumet.

As the snowbanks start to recede, I start to switch my attention to non-snow related pursuits like fishing, smelt dipping, and just plain wandering around the woods looking for those elusive morels or other wild edibles.

I was recently hiking down state with family where spring has a better hold. We passed a woman who asked us if we had seen many flowers. I was surprised by the question because I hadn’t noticed much besides a few planted daffodils near where we parked.

It wasn’t five minutes later that we came across a patch of small purple flowers. I made many guesses as to what the flowers were but my memory was rusty and I had no field guide to reference.

It was a day later while driving home that I blurted out to my wife “Round lobed hepatica!” She just looked at me like I was crazy till I explained that was the flowers we had seen on the hike. I think she looked at me then like I was slightly crazier.

As spring starts to take hold here, the flowers will start to pop up. Not all of them have obscure names like Round lobed hepatica but more common names like Spring Beauty or Forget-me-not.

Weeks ago during one of the first warm-ups, I saw little purple flowers next to the house where the snow melts early.

To the best of my knowledge they are an ornamental flower called Glory of the snow. Now I’m starting to notice Crocus blooms here and there. It will not be long before the wildflowers start to bloom if they haven’t begun already.

One of the earliest blooms that can easily go unnoticed is the Trailing Arbutus. These small pink to white flowers can be hidden by the leathery evergreen leaves of this creeping shrub. They are also only inches off the ground. Besides being possibly the earliest bloomers, they’re also interesting because of their fragrance in which perfumes were modeled after.

Another early bloomer that is easily noticed is the Marsh Marigold. These are often seen in roadside ditches and marshy areas like the portion of cliff drive closer to Ahmeek. The bright yellow blossom over a lush green foliage easily stands out from their surroundings in the early spring.

As the month progresses the number of wildflowers blooming will increase. I suspect by the end of the month, blossoms of Starflower, Blood Root, and Trillium will be up just to name a few.

With the help of a field guide or knowledgeable person, identifying these flowers becomes a snap. You too can impress your friends and family by knowing what a Round Lobed Hepatica is. Get out there and enjoy the spring.