Sunday, March 13, 2016

Flowers Before Spring

When the first sign of green starts to appear and the first flowers open their buds, you notice. After a spell of cold, drab winter, flowers are oh-so-welcome! Georgia may not have a very long winter, but it’s winter enough for us. It’s warm enough now to really be outside (maybe even a little too warm), and the earliest of flowers caught my attention this week.

Bluets (Houstonia pusilla)
Viola bicolor

The tiniest of flowers can often be found in the thin edges of the lawn. When I walk down the street, some of the “lawn flowers” that I see are bluets (Houstonia pusilla), field pansies (Viola bicolor), common violets (Viola sororia) as well as some non-native imports: hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), the very similar looking spring draba (Draba verna), and dandelions (Taraxacum officinale).

Draba verna

Taraxacum officinale with tiny bee

With the exception of dandelions and common violets, these are annual flowers that rely on good pollination to set enough seed for next year. Thanks to early bees and butterflies, they seem to succeed, so it is good news for the flowers and good news for the insects that needed them.

In the woods, tiny flowers are also sprouting: liverwort (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa), trout lily (Erythronium umbilicatum) and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) are up well before the official start of spring in Georgia. All of these manage to send flower and foliage up through the fading leaves of fall, sometimes piercing straight through a leaf to reach the sun. Nature finds a way, doesn’t it?

Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa
Sanguinaria canadensis

Herbaceous plants aren’t the only early bloomers. In the shrubbery department, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are the earliest to bloom. Overhead, red maple flowers (Acer rubrum) decorate far-reaching twigs until they tumble to the ground for us to examine.

Hooray for the earliest of flowers, arriving even before we might expect them. They are right on time for the insects emerging to seek them and to soothe our winter-weary soul.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

Wild blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)


  1. It is exciting to find new blooms emerging each day. The pollinators were out this weekend buzzing all over the first blooms. Even had a swallowtail fluttering around.

  2. when i was a kid, i always knew that spring was on the way when I saw the bluets. They are one of my most favorite flowers. I see tiny little flowers in my yard that most people never notice. My camera makes good close up pictures so I have pictures of most of them. I have found the draba verna on my lawn. I have just come back to my blog that was started on AOL years ago. The people who made comments on my blog have disappeared and I have no way of finding them which makes me sad. I know one of them in England has died. I found yours today and it has inspired me to come back. Enjoy reading your posts. I love the native flowers in Ala. My favorite tree is the Southern Crabapple.