Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Native Woodland Wildflowers

Bloodroot or Sanguinaria

JUNE WILDFLOWER WEEK events, publications, guides, identification, coloring books, even a crossword puzzle at: arboretum.unl.edu/wildflower-week

Christina Hoyt 
      Growing up in Minnesota I learned to love three things: trees, water and woodland wildflowers. I looked forward to spring when flowers would peak through the soil, burst into flower and then quickly fade. It was always a challenge to see if I could catch things in bloom: Trillium, Marsh Marigolds, Jack-in the pulpit, Lady Slippers and Solomon’s seal. While most of the woodland flowers I encountered don’t find home in Nebraska, some are native to the upland forest region of Eastern Nebraska.  Although most Nebraskans don’t live in the woods, many people have the perfect micro-climates for these wildflowers in their own backyards.  In the places where “nothing grows” because it’s too shady, these woodland plants take center stage.  

Woodland Wildflowers for Moist Shade
Bloodroot (Sanquinaria canadensis) is in the poppy family and gets white flowers in mid-spring. The leaves persist throughout the growing season; Blue Flag iris (Iris virginica) grows 20” tall with dark blue flowers. Prefers moist conditions; Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) grows 12” tall and has V-shaped flowers and fern-like foliage. It’s an ephemeral plant, leaves fade as trees leaf out; Jack-in-the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) grows 2’ tall and has deep purple-green leaves with a flower hidden under a hooded spath. Does best in moist, humus-rich environments.
Woodland Wildflowers for Dry Shade
Jack-in-the-pulpit or Arisaema
Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) is the GreatPlants perennial of the year.  Grows 2’ tall and has grace full arching branches. In the spring it has dainty white flowers that dangle from the stem. Try Variegated Solomon’s Seal and allow it to colonize; Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) grows 18” tall. Gets salmon color flowers April-June. It will spread and colonize; Wild cranesbill (Geranium maculatum) grows 12” tall. Gets five-petaled pink flowers. Tolerates disturbed areas and prefers partial-shade. It will colonize.

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