April 14, 2010

A Walk in the Woods: First Flowers of Spring

The first tiny wildflowers have begun to appear on the forest floor, brightening my walks with spots of jaunty color singing out from the background of dried leaves. I believe that the yellow flowers are a kind of violet, but I'm not sure. Perhaps our resident naturalist, Susan, will identify the flowers for us.
Update: Susan has come through and identified the top flower as "Spring Beauty", Claytonia Caroliniana, and they're edible. The flower below is a violet as I thought, possibly Viola rotundifolia.

In comments about the ruglet Scarlet Vessel, Susan mentioned that the color of the ruglet was the same as red maple flowers, below. Ah-hah! those were the flowers that I saw strewn over the ground on my walks. It turns out that those are the spent male flowers, while the female flowers remain on the tree, a decorative frothy red, and develop into scarlet winged seeds.


  1. Ah! You've been in the rich woods. Spring Beauties at the top -- that's their common name. Claytonia caroliniana. They are good to eat! And the second is a yellow violet, perhaps Viola rotundifolia? they are hard to i.d. but this looks like it, Round-leaved yellow violet. That's a good find. I have other spp. around here.

  2. Thanks for the identifications, Susan. I went through my wildflower book and had an inkling that the top flower was a claytonia, but I didn't feel confident about it; it's hard to i.d. a flower from a simple line drawing.

  3. Ah, spring beauty, I remember them from my childhood yard in Ohio. Always glad for the edible flower....excels the salad! Could either of you speak to the leaf shoot on my posting of 4/16.....Thanks