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Such elegant displays. Such ruthless opportunism. Here in the northern hardwood forests, spring wildflowers reach for sunlight and lure pollinators with sweet rewards. Cast in pastels, these blooms are acting out nothing less than the struggle for existence. They’re having a spring fling with flies and bumblebees—and of course with each other—before the maples and beeches, the ashes and birches, spread their leaves to steal sunlight from the forest floor.

Classic spring ephemerals now in bloom near me around Vermont include: Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Anemone acutiloba), Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana), Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) Early Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum giganteum) and Red Trillium (Trillium erectum) — to name but a few. Some of them, in this race of reproduction, bloom even before their own leaves emerge.

I have a particular fondness for Bloodroot, whose white petals alternate in slender, tapered symmetry. So get yourself to some maple sugarwoods or other calcium rich woods soon. This display lasts but a few weeks. By mid May, the hardwood leaves will have claimed the forest canopy, and set the stage for another great display: warblers.

(By the way, if you’d like to take photos like these, sign up for my occasional e-newsletter to hear about digital photography workshops and other events from the frontiers of wildlife and wild places — when they resume on the other side of this plague.)

  1. John Snell says:

    Lovely! Amazing you saw all three species in one frame. I was out off North Street today and found things waking up rapidly. Every day, even every hour, brings more and more to life.

  2. Joan Metcalf says:

    Beautiful pictures Bryan. My favorite spring activity! The woods by Smith farm are good places for wildflowers.some lady slippers remain at my cabin – not as many as a few years ago – 49 on one count!

  3. Randy Emmitt says:

    Never seen a Milberts, lovely photos.

  4. When did you take the Milbert’s photo? We have not seen them in MA for years! Lovely photos!

  5. My favorite season! I am dashing from place to place, seeking the wildflowers! Joy!

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