If you haven’t been out to our trails recently, now is the time to go. Ohio’s woodland wildflowers are putting on their spectacular display.
One that is new to me was spotted along Trout Lily Trail at Withrow Nature Preserve. Have you ever heard of blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna)? Well, wait until you see them! This winter annual is in the plantain family (Plantaginaceae). Their blue and white flowers top the plant and are easy to spy when in the forest. Rarely do you find a single plant growing along the trail, but if you do, look into the woods nearby. You will see a carpet of these native flowers growing with other native plants such as wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) and Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica).
A variety of bees are attracted to the nectar and pollen of the flowers of blue-eyed Mary. The plant blooms in mid- to late spring, but many at Withrow Nature Preserve are dropping their petals, so now is the time to catch a glimpse.
After blue-eyed Marys drop their petals, the flower is then replaced with a small ovoid capsule that contains a few small seeds. The seeds germinate in the fall to prepare for next year’s display.
You can watch this video of blue-eyed Marys taken in Brown County, Indiana. It’s similar to what you’ll see at Withrow Nature Preserve (and looks like it could’ve even been filmed there!).
Blue-eyed Mary is only around for a short time. If you missed this Ohio wildflower this year, don’t fret; she will return next spring.
Daniel Hart, Conservation & Parks Technician, Woodland Mound