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Spring Wildflowers of April and May.

May 7, 2016

There are three big waves of wildflowers that come and go during the year- Spring (April & May), Summer (June & July), and Autumn (August & September).  We are in the middle of Spring right now, and it feels great to get out of the cold weather!  April and May bring us the first big explosion of color after winter.  Here’s some of the more common plants you can see in Ohio this season.

 

April

April is notable for 3 common yellow wildflowers that bloom- not counting Dandelions, which are everywhere!

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Winter Cress

You’ll see this bright yellow plant in fields.  Occasionally a whole field will be full of them.  The flowers are small and have 4 petals.

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Butterweed

This plant grows in wet areas, such as ditches, swamps and wet fields.  It is thicker and has bigger flowers than Winter Cress, and has multiple petals.

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Golden Ragwort

This plant resembles Butterweed, but it is thinner & more delicate and with smaller leaves.  You find it in woods and along wood edges.

You may notice a particular tall white wildflower, usually along wood edges or near bushes-

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Garlic Mustard

This plant is an invasive species and grows rapidly.  Often you’ll see where people have pulled these up out of the ground in parks so they don’t take over all of the plant habitat.

Another wildflower you can find in woods, fields and lawns is very recognizable-

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Violets

Violets can be purple, white or yellow.  If you have them on your lawn you know how hard they are to get rid of- just enjoy them!

April is also the big month for Spring Ephemerals, which are beautiful woodland flowers that take advantage of all of the sun that gets through the trees before the leaves and forest undergrowth block out much of the sun.  Here are some that you can see from a woodland path-

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Spring Beauties

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Virginia Bluebells

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Bloodroot

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Dutchman’s Breeches

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Rue Anemone

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Blue Phlox

May

In May, you’ll notice a few prominent white wildflowers-

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Fleabane

This plant reminds one of Asters, but those grow in the autumn.  The flowers can also be light pink or light purple.  Fleabane will be around until the autumn.

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Ox eye Daisy

This garden favorite grows wild in fields and grassy roadsides, often in large colonies.  It’ll be around in the summer, too.

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Hemlock

This is a large, tall wildflower often seen in colonies in waste areas and along wooded or brushy fence edges.  It won’t be around long.

Three other yellow plants join April’s buttery blooms-

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Buttercups

These brilliant yellow flowers are found in wet wooded areas.  Pictured is the common Hispid Buttercup.

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Yellow Goat’s Beard

This tall single-flower plant can be seen along roads and in fields, even in overgrown yards.

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Hawkweed

Hawkweed can be told by its very hairy stem and tight clusters of flowers.  It isn’t very tall, but is quite noticeable in fields.  It comes in both yellow and orange colors.

A pretty pinkish violet wildflower is prominent along wood edges this month-

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Dame’s Rocket

This plant is numerous and looks like a garden flower.  It is easily identified by its 4-petaled flowers.  It’ll mostly be gone by summer.

Meanwhile, in the May woods, the flowers have thinned out due to the leaves being out on the trees and the undergrowth becoming dense.  Here’s what you can see there this month-

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Wild Geranium

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Waterleaf

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Sweet Cicely

That’s the highlights of common spring plants in Ohio.  You can find many others in these two posts of mine from 2012:

April Wildflowers in Ohio

May Wildflowers in Ohio

How many have you seen so far this season?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2016 1:21 pm

    Love those Dutchman’s Britches! They bloom when the shade is still scarce in the woods. Very pretty photo.

  2. May 11, 2016 3:00 pm

    I was just in Ohio and I thought of you. Seasons definitely ahead of Wisconsin and so fun to anticipate from your pictures! Happy spring!

  3. May 14, 2016 8:09 am

    Happy spring wildflowers to you. The butterweed that we have in Austin is Packera tampicana. I wonder if yours might be Packera aurea, which I see grows in your part of the country.

    • May 14, 2016 11:35 pm

      Thanks Steve! You know, I’m not certain about the species, but Packera glabella comes up in a lot of references in the state.

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