Put to it to list the first seven wildflowers that signal spring in New England, seven botanists would surely give seven different answers. Put the same question to the earliest flying bees and flies, and their answer would be one and the same since their lives depend on it. — Morgan Bulkeley
Ephemeral means lasting for a short time, and by nature (no pun intended), spring wildflowers are here today and gone tomorrow.
I know I bring the dude up often, but that’s cause dude knew his stuff. Morgan Bulkeley lived and breathed for the Berkshire’s natural rhythms. Writing in April, 1967 for the Berkshire Eagle, Bulkeley listed seven spring ephemerals he considered the quintessential harbingers of spring. His list included pussy willow, the aptly named, skunk cabbage, coltsfoot, dandelion (not to be confused with one another), as well as the beaked hazelnut. Although, our list also includes trailing arbutus and hepatica, we differed on the other five and ultimately, it’s the fact that there are so many to choose from that increases the beauty of the season.
Taking a walk in the spring woods after a long, bare winter helps your eyes refocus on the smallest of growth. Drop it low (and probably pick it up slow, if you got that reference) to check out what’s pushing its way through the leaf litter. You’ll probably spot some early pollinators searching for sunlight before the full canopy of trees takes over.
Hepaticas can be found flowering as early as March, and bloodroot, trout lily, and spring beauty are not far behind. Along with Jack in the Pulpit, red trillium, and arbutus (trailing or otherwise) our seven aren’t the same as Bulkeley’s, but are equally as transient. We’ve put together a printable Hike & Seek guide to make your spring walk more interactive! We’ve also included a list of local hot spots to help you on your search! These guides can be laminated for durability and used for springs to come. Both sheets are customized to fit into our handmade Nature Boards.