Sunday, March 22, 2020

Spring Flowers

Spring is late on the Colorado Front Range this year, cold and snow still coming. Add to that closures due to corona virus concerns and it seems a good time for flower pictures. Here are flowers to anticipate

Galanthus
snowdrops, Galanthus

Very early to flower are snowdrops, also called Candlemas bells. Candlemas is February 2, so they were that early in England. In my yard, however, they haven't flowered before February 15 in ten years of observation. (Genus Galanthus, amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae). (My blog on snowdrops)

stork's bill, Iridium
redstem stork's bill
Redstem stork's bill, Erodium cicutarium (geranium family, Geraniaceae). It was introduced by settlers to California about 1700 and has spread widely. In Colorado, it is one of the first plants to flower; I've seen it in January. (blog)

Dandelions! (Taraxacum officiale, sunflower family Asteraceae). Brought to North America as food and medicine, they're one of our best-known flowers, despite being cursed as weeds. They will take advantage of just a brief period of warm weather to flower. Enjoy their bright flowers! (blog post)

dandelion

And crocuses! (From Eurasia, genus Crocus, iris family Iridaceae). Among the the earliest garden flowers and widely planted.
crocus
Spring snows don't stop crocuses.
Pasque flower, also called American crocus, is native across much of North America. Pasque refers to Easter. (Anemone patens or Pulsatilla patens, buttercup family, Ranunculaceae). (Blog post)
Pasque flowers in the Rocky Mountain foothills
Hellebore is also called the Lenten rose. (From Eurasia, genus Helleborus, buttercup family, Ranunculaceae).
hellebore, Lenten rose. One of its many colors.
Blue mustard (Chorispora tenella) is an early spring weed. In the fields near me, it seems more pink than blue, but almost all mustards, with the cross-shaped flower, in the cabbage family, Brassicaceae, have yellow flowers, and those that don't have yellow flowers have white flowers, so this plant's flower color make it easy to recognize. (People also call it purple mustard.)

blue mustard
blue mustard, Chorispora tenella
Star lily, sand lily, Leucocrinum (asparagus family, Asparagaceae). This is a small but handsome white flower grows in grasslands and mountain meadows across the west (blog post).

star-lily or sand-lily, Leucocrinum montanum
In England, pretty much the first spring flower of the pastures is the common primrose (Primula vulgaris, primrose family Primulaceae). Some US gardens have them, but they aren't particularly common. (blogs: reasons to like; more reasons to like; postscript )

primroses, Primula vulgaris
Grape hyacinths (Muscari species) are spring bulbs that in my area are spread aggressively but make up for it by having masses of pretty purple flowers. (blog)

grape hyacinths
In native grasslands, western wallflowers (Erysimum species, cabbage family, Brassicaceae) are among the biggest of the mustards, with a nice compact shape and flowers from yellow to orange.

wallflower, Erysimum
Phlox (Phlox species, phlox family Polemoniaceae). Low spreading, early-flowering phlox species are native across the west, making a grand splash of color. This one is in a garden. I have a plant but it is tiny by comparison.

phlox
Tulips! Classical spring flowers. (genus Tulipa, lily family Liliaceae) (blogs: tulips and the tulip bubble Part 1 and Part 2 )

tulip, Tulipa

Daffodils and narcissus and jonquils are all in the genus Narcissus (amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae) and have been grown as spring flowers for centuries (blog)

daffodil, Narcissus

And watch for the flowering shrubs. Saskatoon (service berry, Amelanchier, rose family, Rosaceae) is one of the earliest native North American shrubs to flower (blog post)

saskatoon, Amelanchier
saskatoon, serviceberry
Of course that's just a start. But you can make it a quiz: have you seen all of these this year?

These are, intentionally, a mix of wild natives, weeds, and cultivated plants. Some are western so depending on where you live you won't see them. I apologise for not including spring favorites from the New York forests of my childhood (spring beauty, hepatica) but I don't have photos. Some places all of these will have already flowered, elsewhere even the crocuses aren't up. But it is spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Enjoy!

Comments and corrections welcome.

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist

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