Special to 1812Blockhouse

Spring has sprung! With a milder than usual winter, our earliest spring wildflowers are already popping up across southern areas of the state. Especially lovely this time of year, witness spring’s beauty at state nature preserves, parks, wildlife areas, and forests across Ohio.

Welcome to the 2024 Wildflower Bloom Report. Every Friday through mid-May ODNR’s Division of Natural Areas and Preserves will deliver all the details on which wildflowers are in bloom and the best places to find them.

The bloom report will be organized into South, Central, and North categories to best track what’s happening in your region. Spring always gets going in our southern reaches first before gradually moving northward. We will feature a different state nature preserve each week as well as on-the-trail videos, pollinator and host plant highlights, and more! We aim to be your go to source for wildflower displays.

Ohio’s first native wildflower to bloom, skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), began blooming in southern Ohio as early as mid-January. This wildflower occurs in wetland habitats such as swamp woods, fens, and seeps. Its name comes from the fetid odor of its flowers and broken foliage. Despite not smelling nice to our noses, it’s highly attractive to its pollinators such as flies and beetles. Another neat skunk cabbage fact is the flower’s thermogenic abilities. Through cellular respiration, the flowers release heat into its immediate environment to thaw soil and melt snow to get a head start on the growing season. Some of the easier places to see this early bloomer include Cedar BogBoch Hollow, Christmas Rocks, Gallagher Fen, and Campbell state nature preserves.

Additionally, we can report nearly a dozen native wildflowers already in bloom in southernmost Ohio. If you’re lucky to be in southern Ohio, you may spot these species blooming: harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa), white trout-lily (Erythronium albidum), purple cress (Cardamine douglassii), Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) early saxifrage (Micranthus virginiensis), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), round-lobed (Hepatica americana) and sharp-lobed hepaticas (Hepatica acutiloba). The best places to see most of these early bloomers include East Fork State ParkWhipple State Nature Preserve, Ohio River Bluffs Nature Preserve owned by The Arc of Appalachia, Wayne National Forest – Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area, Forked Run State Park, and Shawnee State Forest.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Ohio’s daintiest and earliest trillium, the snow trillium (Trillium nivale). Its name comes from the fact it appears so early it will often be covered in a late snow while in full flower. Snow trillium has a special place in Ohio history because it was discovered and described to science from plants growing along the Scioto River outside Columbus in the 1830s. Great places to see catch this trillium about now include Clifton Gorge and Miller state nature preserves as well as the Arc of Appalachia’s Chalet Nivale Nature Preserve, in Adams County. Go now as we hear the snow trilliums are in full bloom at Chalet and were recently spotted at Clifton Gorge.

Want to keep track of what you see at Ohio’s state nature preserves, parks, wildlife areas and forests? Download our handy spring wildflower checklist.

The Ohio Wildflower Bloom Report is updated weekly from March to the middle of May. We encourage you to take spring wildflower photos and upload them to social media using the hashtag #OhioWildflowers and #OhioHeartOfItAll. Follow @ohioDNR and @ohioDNAP on Instagram and Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Division of Natural Areas & Preserves on Facebook to learn more about Ohio’s spring wildflower season.

Source, Photo: ODNR

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