The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Finding May Flowers

Posted by | May 4, 2020 | Filed under: Observations

It’s finally May, and in between rain, cold, cold rain, wind, and cold wind I’ve been looking for flowers. Is it because of this very cold spring? Or did we plan this walk, back in the good old days when we did walks, too early? Either way, it is enjoyable to be out, and there are things to see.

In your own yard and close to home you can see forsythia, so bright on dreary days. The magnolia are going by, but the cherry blossoms are revealing themselves. Not much happening with the apple trees yet, but have you noticed the red maple tree flowers? Yes! Those red fuzzy bits of color precede the leaves. You will see them on the ground or on the hemlock and balsam branches, looking like Christmas decorations. And look up; you will see them on the trees. They are going by but still evident.

Yes, there are things to see. The skunk cabbage grows in wet places. Last month we noticed it as a harbinger of spring—one of the first. Now the leaves are getting large and very green. 


Have you discovered the trout lily leaves? I haven’t seen any flowers yet, but the leaves abound. See why they are called trout lilies? Take note of where you see the leaves and return after a few days of sun and warmth to be rewarded with the lovely flower.


The cinnamon ferns will soon claim the landscape, but now they are tightly furled, fuzzy, and hard to see. But they are peeking out and soon will unfurl. No, these fiddleheads are not our edible ones. Most people I know are quite secretive of their ostrich fern locations. 

Japanese barberry, that loathed invasive, is putting out leaves and has little yellow nubs where the flowers will appear.  Some have the jewel-like red berries still hanging on the underside of the branch from last fall’s bounty. 

Wild geranium has put out leaves. No flowers yet, but if you look you can identify the leaves and can return to see the delicate pastel flowers.

No lady slippers or pitcher plants yet. Too early. 

The Canada mayflowers have put up their leaves all over the forest floor. At first they are almost invisible slender shoots, then they get larger and you can see the tightly furled aspect. Now they are opening up as leaves, individual or sometimes double, and later they will reveal small, secretive white flowers with such delicate scent. 

Have you seen the common periwinkle? Often mistaken for violets, which are also evident now, they make a lovely ground cover. Look closely to distinguish between the periwinkle blossom and the violet. 


And the bluets! They are in sunny places scattered in the grass. Don’t they bring cheer!


These are spring ephemerals, meaning they don’t last long. When the trees leaf out, shade will cover the spaces these beauties inhabit and they will leave us until next early spring when they can photosynthesize and grow and bring smiles to our winter weary lives.

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