Signs of spring are popping up across Ohio
Winter is on its way out and signaling its retreat is the harbinger of spring, a small spring wildflower now blooming in woodlands across the state.
In fact, Ohio has more than 2,300 wildflower species. Longer days mean plants are receiving more sunlight, signaling their emergence and prompting a brief parade of color throughout our forests, fields, backyards and city parks.
To best view these spring beauties, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) suggests visiting one of its many state parks, nature preserves, or forests. A wildflower excursion is a fun, inexpensive outing for individuals and families.
"Spring wildflowers provide a welcome splash of color in every corner of Ohio," said Allison Cusick, chief botanist with the ODNR Division of Natural Areas & Preserves. "Typically, wildflowers begin blooming in southwest Ohio in late March and by mid-April the entire state will be awash in a variety of blooming wildflowers.
Guided walks are great for those who are unfamiliar with Ohios vast array of wildflowers. Offered at many state parks and nature preserves, guided hikes can help you identify lesser-known species found along the trail and provide interesting tidbits about Ohios natural history and folklore.
For instance, you might learn that Dentaria laciniata, or cut-leaved toothwort, was used by early Ohio settlers who believed it cured tooth pain. One of our most common wildflowers, this plant can be found in community parks as well as Ohio woodlands.
Whether participating in a guided trip or venturing out on your own, consider purchasing a field guide for wildflowers. Look for one thats easy to read out in the field and provides clear photos or drawings. Try keeping a journal of the plants youve seen, listing locations and notes about each flower. As you learn your way around wildflowers youll find these recordings to be a handy reference tool.
Its impossible to list all of the wonderful wildflower locations, so below are some of the best places to enjoy natures colorful display of spring bloomers.
Richland Countys Fowler Woods, Ohios first nature preserve, is notable for the spectacular displays of marsh-marigolds in April. Later in May, the forest floor is blanketed in spring wildflowers including Dutchmans-breeches, jack-in-the-pulpit, phlox, and spring beauty.
Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve and John Bryan State Park in Greene County are known for their abundant Hepatica, or liverleaf. Colorfully trumpeting springs arrival, this early bloomer decorates woodland floors in delicate shades of blue, pink, lavender, and white.
One of Ohios old growth forests is Gross Woods State Nature Preserve in Shelby County. Discover spring wonders such as large-flowered trilliums (the state wildflower), wild geranium, and several species of violets.
At Hocking Hills State Park in Hocking County, walk amid the towering cliffs and deep-hemlock shaded gorges as you observe natures carpet of wildflowers and sparkling waterfalls.
Amid the wide range of wildflowers at Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve in Jackson County, visitors can view the pink ladys-slipper, one of Ohios wild orchids.
In mid-May the Lakeside daisy at Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve in Ottawa County is showing its colors. One of Ohios most spectacular wildflowers, this is the only location in the United States where these bright yellow daisies bloom.
Have fun and remember, no matter how attractive you find them, wildflowers are best left unpicked for others to enjoy!
A complete list of recommended sites for wildflower viewing and guided spring wildflower hikes can be accessed from ODNRs Web page at: www.dnr.state.oh.us