Spring has sprung,
The grass is riz.
I wonder where them flowers is?
No sooner do the Wisconsin snows melt than Wisconsin wildflowers begin to appear. In fact, some hardy species even get a jump start on Spring by poking up through the snow!
A walk or ride on the Glacial Drumlin Trail can be invigorating any time of year. But it can be especially stimulating and exciting in the Springtime, as everything around you ‘springs’ to life for the season.
Songbirds who spent the winter far to the south have returned, or are now passing through on their long journeys further north. The critters who slumbered in their burrows and dens deep under the snow and ice are now emerging to forage. Even the trees are now awakening and will soon be busting out in buds and leaves.
But certainly the most colorful are the native wildflowers!
The Glacial Drumlin Trail offers a variety of opportunities for wildflower spotting, due to the diverse ecosystems and habitats found along the Trail. From open meadows and prairies to watery shorelines to deep wooded forests, an observant hiker will see a colorful array of wildflowers surrounding the Trail.
What is a Native Wildflower?
A wildflower is one that was not intentionally planted or seeded by humans, but which is instead a native species naturally occurring in the area.
Some of the first signs of renewed vegetation in the Spring are these ‘early risers.’ Species like Virginia bluebell, bloodroot, trillium, and others pop up from the moist woodland soil and begin flowering in the Spring sunshine before the overhead tree canopies block out the daylight.
Spring ephemeral wildflowers can often appear quite small and delicate, so get down on your hands and knees to take a closer look at these tiny and fleeting flowers, because they may be around for only a few weeks!
What Kinds of Wildflowers Can I See Throughout the Seasons?
The bloom season for Wisconsin wildflowers is variable, with wildflowers in the southern part of the state appearing before those in the north. Here, wildflowers start to pop up as early as April, and various species show their stuff throughout the summer and into the fall!
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Watch for these Wisconsin wildflowers:
- Blood Root
- Cutleaf Toothwort
- Wood Violets
- Jack in the Pulpit
- Marsh Marigold
- Shooting Star
- Virginia Bluebell
- Wood Anemone
- Common Cinquefoil
- Common Evening Primrose
- Cow Parsnip
- Daisy Flee Bane
- Hoary Puccoon
- Virginia Waterleaf
- Wild Rose
- Wisconsin Dewberry
- Black Eyed Susan
- Blazing Star
- Indian Pipe
- Pointed Leaf Tick Trefoil
- Purple Milkweed
- Spotted Touch Me Not
- Wild Bergamot
- Garden Phlox
- Gray Headed Coneflower
- Prairie Dock
- Woodland Sunflower
- Black Eyed Susan
- Bottle Gentian
- Tall Boneset
- Tall Goldenrod
- White Snakeroot
- Wild Sunflowers
The Birds and the Bees …
… and the butterflies and the moths and the caterpillars, oh my!
All these critters—and more—love native Wisconsin wildflowers. The seeds provide valuable food for cardinals, goldfinches, sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches, and other birds. Hummingbirds especially love to drink the nectar from Columbine, Virginia Bluebell, and Blazing Star flowers.
Insects like bees, butterflies, moths, flies, ants, wasps, and beetles are all attracted to wildflowers, and they help pollinate much of the world’s major food crops for humans.
Everyone seems to love Milkweed. It’s a primary food source for Monarchs, both in their caterpillar and adult stages, as well as many other butterflies, moths, and insects. This in turn attracts many birds which come to eat the insects. Some birds even use the strong fibers of the Milkweed stem to weave their nests, and use the soft fluffy hairs attached to the Milkweed seeds as a cozy nest lining for their babies.
Can I Pick or Collect Wildflowers?
Sometimes, but why harm such a pretty little thing?
All plants, including wildflowers, can be picked on private lands. But on Wisconsin state property, like the Glacial Drumlin Trail, plants or plant parts cannot be taken, except for edible fruits, edible nuts, wild mushrooms, wild asparagus and watercress.
Instead, please leave wildflowers and other plants to live and thrive, and to play their parts in the lives of all the other plants, bugs, and critters around you.
After your Glacial Drumlin Trail wildflower outing, look for a satisfying lunch, a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, or a cold beer at one of the many unique establishments along the Trail.
Use the interactive Visitors Guide to find one close to you!
You can learn more about Wisconsin wildflowers here:
Wisconsin Native Wildflowers
10 Spring Ephemerals: The First Wildflowers
Milkweed – It’s Not Just for Monarchs
Special thanks to Cheryl Schiltz Photography for these beautiful wildflower photos. A skilled and avid nature photographer of all things Wisconsin and beyond. Check out more of her work here: https://www.facebook.com/Tootpics