A walk in the St. Croix River Valley this time of year will restore your soul from the weariness that a long, snowy winter can bring. When the snow has melted away and the sun rises higher in the springtime sky, and before the trees leaf out, the forest floor becomes alive with a vast carpet of wildflowers that seem to appear and bloom before your very eyes.
Ephemeral wildflowers are very short-lived. The word “Ephemeral” means “short-lived, fleeting, momentary” among other synonymous words. The wildflowers that grow in the forest are indeed short-lived. Some species grow their leaves and stems, flower, get pollinated, and go to seed within a day, most within a handful of days. They need to go through their entire reproductive process this quickly because once the canopy trees leaf out, they no longer have access to sunlight, which is necessary for growth. Once they finish this process, the above-ground portion of the plants die back.
This is why timing is everything when looking for spring wildflowers. If you miss a few days, you may miss seeing several species. In my neck of the woods, Northwest Wisconsin, we don’t begin to see signs of any green plants coming up through the decaying leaf litter until the last week of April. By mid-May, the flowers are usually gone.
Here are some photos of many of the spring-blooming wildflowers that I have observed over the years along the St. Croix River Valley in Burnett County, Wisconsin. Enjoy! If you would like to see some of these flowers for yourself, please join me this Saturday, May 4th for a Spring Wildflower Walk. Here is a link to more information.