First Spring Wildflowers: The Season Begins

It is always a challenge picking the dates, weeks in advance, for early spring wildflower walks. The challenge is in selecting a time when the short-lived blooms are visible. They are called “ephemerals” for a reason.

This year Spring has been colder than average here in Detroit and first flowering is later than normal. But, thanks to a couple of recent warm sunny days, a variety of small flowers can now be seen on walks in Eliza Howell Park.


Bloodroot grows on a little higher ground than most of the other early spring flowers, so it is now usually my first stop before I head down to the floodplain. There is only a limited number of days to observe this one-leaf, one-bloom flower, named after the orange-red rhizomes.

Spring Beauty

I tend to post something about Spring Beauties ever year. They are the most common early flower in the park, small, and ranging in color from mostly white to pink. As the second photo here shows, when the flowers appear, the insects come.

This is the first year that I have noticed that a number of participants on these wild flower nature walks are as excited as I am to see the insects. Pollinators have been receiving a lot of publicity and it is having an effect!

Yellow Trout Lily

Named Trout Lily because the mottled leaves reminded someone of a Brown or Brook Trout, this is also is quite common. At least the leaves are common; not every plant has a flower. It is a true lily.

White Trout Lily

Less common is another species of Trout Lily. The leaves of White Trout Lily are a little narrower. An alternative (and misleading) name for Trout Lilies, “Dogtooth Violet,” is more often used for the white species.

Cut-leaved Toothwort

Another flower that varies a little from white to pink is named for the ridges on the leaves and a tooth-like growth on the roots. It’s size is evident in the second photo, with the presence of a large bumblebee. It is popular with pollinators.

Dutchman’s Breeches

Dutchman’s Breeches is, at least in Eliza Howell Park, a quite uncommon flower, one that I always enjoy seeing. Its name comes from the appearance of the flower, suggesting pantaloons, hanging upside down and somewhat inflated. (The flower names that we inherit from previous generations sometimes add to the fun of wildflower walks.)

There are a variety of other wildflowers that will soon be blooming near the river, including varieties of Violets, Wild Ginger, Wild Geranium, Trillium, and Mayapple.


Back up from the river, in the park fields, there are a few scattered locations where Pussytoes (named by the resemblance to a cat’s paw) grow. They are short and not easy to spot. The photos show the difference between the male and the female flowers.


The flower season has begun. For the next 6 months or so, there will be flowers blooming in Eliza Howell, the species and locations differing as the seasons progress. The pollinators and humans visiting the park welcome them.

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