As we navigate uncertain times, nature remains ever constant. Many are finding parks to be a getaway from this very different world. Happily, spring brings us warmer weather and an array of colorful flowers to enjoy, like a painter’s palette. To better enjoy native wildflowers, consider making a wildflower scavenger hunt part of your next outdoor adventure. Challenge yourself even further by learning a few things about each one! Here are five Ohio native wildflowers to get you started.
Celandine Poppy or Wood Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
Cool Fact: Although toxic to mammals, ants are attracted to the oily leaves and stems of this plant. Unknowingly, these ants move the seeds to other areas of the forest.
Scavenger Hunt Tip: Celandine poppy prefers a woodland habitat
Suggested Great Parks Trail: Miami Whitewater Forest – Badlands Trail
Sessile Trillium or Toadshade Trillium (Trillium sessile)
Cool Fact: Remember to stop and smell the flowers. Not this one though. Trillium puts off a foul-smelling odor to attract its main pollinators, flies and beetles. Peek under the leaves. Maybe a toad is shading beneath, just as its name indicates!
Scavenger Hunt Tip: Trillium can be found under fencerows.
Suggested Great Parks Trail: Sharon Woods – Gorge Trail
Wild Blue Phlox or Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Cool Fact: When wild blue phlox is done flowering, a dark, leafy mound of leaves is left behind. This allows the plant to continue to collect nutrients and sunlight to fuel its next year of growth. Smart plant!
Scavenger Hunt Tip: Wild blue phlox prefers shaded creek sides.
Suggested Great Parks Trail: Winton Woods – Kingfisher Trail
Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Cool Fact: Peak under the heart-shaped leaves to find a reddish-brown flower close to the ground. The hidden location of the bloom lures flies in to pollinate. See how many of these blooms you can find!
Scavenger Hunt Tip: Pause in shaded areas and kneel to search for the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger.
Suggested Great Parks Trail: Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve – Pin Oak Trail
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
Cool Fact: Butterflies are the main pollinator of Virginia bluebells, due to the tube-shaped flowers. Without the long tongue of a butterfly, bees have a more difficult time getting to the sweet nectar treat.
Scavenger Hunt Tip: Virginia bluebells love to grow on hillsides in dappled sun.
Suggested Great Parks Trail: Woodland Mound – Seasongood Nature Trail
Amy Swigart, Guest Experience Manager, Sharon Woods