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Coming Soon to a Forest Floor Near You

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By the end of April, I’ll have hiked the first 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail. It has been a delight to watch spring begin to unfold on the landscape. Hiking up and down and up again, I’ve had the chance to see all shades of the season, from leafy green valleys to still-wintry 6,000 ft. summits.

If you live farther north or at higher elevation, here’s a preview of some of the beautiful spring ephemerals – those all-too-fleeting wildflowers that bloom before the trees leaf out – I’ve been seeing over the past few weeks.

One of the very first flowers to appear is bloodroot: 20140428-213713.jpg

Bluets are another very early bloomer. I was seeing these tiny little flowers even in very early April in the Georgia mountains:
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There are several different species of violets in shades of yellow and purple:

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But it is spring beauty, this lovely little white flower (often with pink rays on the petals), that really signals to me that spring has come:
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Not long after the spring beauty, and often intermingled with it, the cheery yellow blooms of trout lily will begin to appear:
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Subtly tucked in amongst the showy flowers are the more discreet green blossoms of jack-in-the-pulpit:

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Several species of trillium, like the toadshade featured at top or the painted trillium here, also make an appearance:
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So if you’ve been hankering for spring, never fear, the ephemerals are here!

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I think bluets left one of the strongest impressions on my hike. Something about seeing a massive miniature field of them that brought wonder and a smile. There is nothing like the flowering of the summits of the southern Appalachians in springtime! Thanks for sharing some great photos!

    April 29, 2014
  2. Beautiful photos! I should have hired you this summer ;) I’ve been tracking what’s blooming across the French Broad River Basin in western NC. You hiked through part of my study area!

    April 29, 2014
  3. Thank you so much for the spring flowers! I miss the many trilliums of Michigan, though the Pasqueflower makes up for it…It’s great to read a naturalist’s thru-hike blog–you look at your natural surroundings differently–more in depth–than other hikers might. May you continue to enjoy your trip! Safe travels, blister-free feet, and may the winds be at your back!!

    April 29, 2014

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