Special to 1812Blockhouse
Yes, we used that “s” word — spring is coming, after all!
After a long, cold and snowy winter it’s time to start looking forward to some warmer temperatures and lengthening days. It won’t be long before Ohio is teeming with green and renewed life once more. Which means it’s time for the Wildflower Bloom Report to reappear as well! Every Friday from March through mid-May we will bring you plenty of photos and details on what wildflowers are in bloom throughout the state and the best places to seek them out. Ohio has plenty to offer in our state nature preserves, state parks, state forests etc. to see what spring’s bounty brings!
Even though our heavy snows have recently melted and spring is just barely moved out of the gate, we’ve already had our first native wildflower in bloom. Known as skunk-cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), this oddity occurs throughout Ohio’s wetland habitats such as swamp woods and seeps. Skunk cabbage gets its name by the fetid odor the flowers and broken foliage release. While a turn off to us, it does a great job of attracting 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 is Cedar Bog, Boch Hollow, Christmas Rocks, Eagle Creek, Gallagher Fen, and Lou Campbell state nature preserves
Other early wildflowers such as harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba), and snow trillium (Trillium nivale) should be popping up in the next couple weeks in southern Ohio. Spring always starts first in our southern counties and gradually moves north with the swelling temperatures and spring rains. Spring starts as a trickle but will soon be a raging torrent of diversity and color as April and May arrive.
While this report focuses mostly on wildflowers there’s still other signs of spring to keep an eye out for and well worth mentioning. Late February and March bring back our earliest migrating birds such as dozens of species of waterfowl. Red-winged blackbirds begin to sing their classic “conga-reeee” among the cattails and the strange but oh-so charming woodcock or timberdoodle begins its evening calls and dance-in-flight. Spring peepers and wood frogs are causing a ruckus on warm wet nights down south already, too!
Speaking of warm wet nights, that means it’s salamander season! With late February and early March’s first warm, rainy nights our large salamanders emerge from their subterranean homes and migrate to vernal pools to breed. This is about the only time to see these remarkable animals with species such as spotted, Jefferson, marbled, and tiger salamanders are visible. Spring is a busy season for those of us who love the natural world with so many wonders to experience!
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 #OhioSpringWildflowers. You can follow @OhioNaturalAreas_ScenicRivers and @OhioDNR on Instagram, @OhioFindItHere and @OhioDNR on Twitter, and the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves on Facebook to see more wildflower photos and signs of spring!