Seasonal Sightings, Wisconsin Nature

Celebrating Native Spring Wildflowers

At Schlitz Audubon, a magical transformation unfolds as the landscape thaws and spring ephemeral wildflowers burst forth, painting the forest floor with fleeting brushstrokes of color. Each bloom, with its unique hue and habitat preference, plays a vital role in the intricate tapestry of the ecosystem. As you wander our trails, look for these beautiful and important flow­er species.

Yellow Blooms

Marsh Marigold: The marsh marigold illuminates wetland habitats with its radiant yellow flowers and heart-shaped leaves, offering essential nectar for early pollinators, especially hoverflies.

Yellow Trout Lily: The yellow trout lily enriches the decidu­ous woodlands with its nodding yellow blooms and green and brownish-purple mottled leaves (which resemble trout). Keep an eye out for white trout lilies, too!

White/Pink Blooms

Large-Flowered Trillium: Symbolizing the balance of un­disturbed ecosystems, the large-flowered trillium graces rich woodlands with its iconic single white flower with three trian­gular petals and three broad leaves.

Bloodroot: The delicate white flowers of bloodroot, with their lobed, curling leaves and crimson sap, emerge early in the sea­son, offering sustenance for pollinators and carrying a rich his­tory of cultural significance.

Mayapple: Hidden beneath umbrella-shaped leaves, the may­apple briefly reveals its white blooms in moist, shady habitats, providing habitat for small animals and stabilizing soil with its extensive root system.

Dutchman’s Breeches: Dangling like upside-down pants on a laundry line, Dutchman’s breeches’ collections of small white flowers and fern-like leaves serve as a vital food source for ear­ly-season pollinators in moist, shady woodlands.

Blue/Purple Blooms

Virginia Bluebell: Adorning moist, shady woodlands with clusters of bell-shaped flowers in hues ranging from lavender to sky blue, the Virginia bluebell offers essential nectar for pol­linators and stabilizes soil with its extensive root system.

Common Blue Violet: Despite its reputation as a weed, the low-growing and resilient common blue violet supports local ecosystems with its bluish-purple, edible flowers and heart-shaped, toothed, often-rolled leaves.

Maroon Blooms

Jack-in-the-Pulpit: Standing tall in shady, moist woodlands, the jack-in-the-pulpit boasts unique, maroon-striped hoods and provides essential sustenance for wildlife with its berries.

Skunk Cabbage: Because of its ability to generate heat, the skunk cabbage is an early spring harbinger. It emerges with its mottled maroon hood and stinky flowers, attracting insects and other wildlife to wet woodlands and marshes.

Wild Ginger: Nestled in shady woodlands, wild ginger re­veals its brownish-maroon flowers beneath large heart-shaped leaves, supporting flies and ground-dwelling pollinators and stabilizing soil with its rhizomatous growth.

Lavender Blooms

Wild Geranium: Adding a touch of color to dry, shady wood­lands, wild geraniums offer delicate pink- to lavender-colored flowers and deeply-lobed, coarsely-toothed leaves.

As spring unfolds, let us cherish these ephemeral wonders as they provide early-season food for pollinators, support biodi­versity, and stabilize and enrich soil. Protecting them is crucial for maintaining healthy ecosystems and preserving biodiversi­ty. Each flower, fleeting yet profound, reminds us of life’s inter­connectedness at the Center and beyond.