A Guide to the Spring Wildflowers along Fox Island’s Nature Preserve Trails

Welcome to the trails of the Fox Island Nature Preserve. This publication is designed to introduce you to the wildflowers that can be seen easily from these trails in March, April, and May. The flowers are listed in approximate order of bloom. The scientific names are printed in italics. The colors of the flowers are underlined as an additional aid to flower recognition. Please take care not to harm the plants in any way. Picking of plants is prohibited by State Law anywhere in the preserve or park.

(Click on any image to see it full size)

(Symplocarpus foetidus)
The hood (spathe) is mottled green, brown, and purple. It emerges tightly closed in very early spring (sometimes in the snow.) It opens to about 6” high and 3” wide. Inside is a thick spike (spadix) with tiny flowers which show yellow stamen. By late spring the tight roll of green leaves , beside the spathe, begins to unfold cabbage-like leaves, which grow 1’ to 2” long. The bruised plant has a fetid odor.

Harbinger of Spring
(Erigenia bulbosa)
Harbinger-of-spring and skunk cabbage are the earliest flowers to bloom at FoxIsland, opening their petals in mid- to late-March. The tiny white flower petals contrast with the dark anthers, giving this plant a common name of salt-and-pepper. The leaves are tiny as well. Each plant has only one or two leaves, and they are divided into tiny segments.

(Cardamine bulbosa)
The white 3/4” flowers with four petals are in clusters at the top of the stem. The leaves , all less than 2” long, are roundish, long-stalked at the base, stalkless and toothed on the stem. The plant is 8” to 18” tall. It blooms in mid-April. Purple cress has lavender flowers and the basal leaves are purple underneath.

(Sanguinaria canadensis)
The single, white squarish flower is 1 ½” across with eight to ten petals which detach very easily. It has a center of golden stamens. The flower blooms on its own 6” to 8” stalk. After emerging closely wrapped around the flowering stalk, the wide circular leaves ,with five to nine lobes each, unfurl up to 10” in width. The plant is 6” to 10”tall. Its roots bleed red. Bloodroot blooms in mid-April.

(Claytonia virginica)
The white to pink 3/4” flower has five petals with dark pink veining. There are two grass-like leaves halfway up the stem and a larger leaf at the base. The plant is 6” to 12” tall. It blooms in mid-April.

Cut-Leaved Toothwort
(Dentaria laciniata)
The white to pink ½” flowers with four petals are in clusters at the top of the stem. Below the flower, but above the midstem,are three whorled, deeply-cut leaves , each about 3” across.The plant is 8” to 12” tall. It blooms in early April.

(Dicentra cucullaria)
The 3/4” white yellow-tipped flowers (4 to 8) hang on short stems along the top of a slightly curving, 5” to 10”, leafless stalk. The two inflated spurs of each flower suggest tiny pantaloons. The blue-green leaves are fern-like. The plant is up to 10” tall. It blooms in late April. The plant is very abundant at Fox Island.

(Viola papilionacea)
The deep blue flower is about 1” across. The flower has five petals. The lower petal is extended back into a spur. It and the side petals are strongly veined. Flowers and the heart-shaped leaves are on separate stalks. The plant is under 10” tall. It blooms in mid-April. SmoothYellow Violet is also along the trails.

(Erythronium americanum)
The three yellow petals and three yellow sepals, each up to 2” long, are on curved back framing bronze anthers. At the base of the leafless stalk are two broad, mottled leaves . The 4” to 8” tall plants form dense clumps. The Trout Lily blooms in late April. There is also a WhiteTrout Lily also. This picture shows only the leaf of the plant

  • no flowers are shown.

Gill-over-the-Ground,Ground Ivy
(Glecoma hederacea)
This tiny purple flowers are two-lipped with two lobes on the upper lip and three lobes on the lower lip as is characteristic of mints. The flowers are in whorls in the axils of the scalloped, roundish 1” leaves . This low, creeping, ivy-like plant blooms in lateApril.

(Caulophyllum thalictroides)
The green to yellowish-green six-petaled flowers are less than½” wide and are in terminal clusters. The leaves are bluish-green and are divided into three leaflets which are three-lobed or again divided. The Blue Cohosh blooms in early May. Flowers are replaced by blue berries in the fall. The plant grows up to 3’ tall.

(Fragaria virginiana)
The white flowers , less than 1” across, with five rounded petals and many stamens, clustered at the top of a separate stalk. Each hairy leaf stem has one leaf which is divided into three sharplytoothed leaflets. The Wild Strawberry plant has its berries in June. It is 6”to 10” tall. It blooms in early May and can be found in abundance in the field along the road to Bowman Lake .

WildGeranium, Cranesbill
(Geranium maculatum)
The five-petaled lavender flowers are about 1 ½”across and are in terminal clusters of two to five. The leaves are up to 6” wide and are deeply cut into three to five lobes with sharp teeth.The plant is 1” to 2” tall. It blooms in early May. The fruit resembles the bill of a crane.

(Allaria officinalis)
The bright green, 2” to 3”, triangular or heart-shaped toothed leaves appear very early. The white, tiny, four petal flowers are in long, branching groups at the to of the 1’ to3’ stem. The species is an invasive exotic and tends to overpopulate in sections of Fox Island. The blooms appear in the middle of May.

Greek Valerian
(Polemonian reptans)
Jacob’s Ladder
(P. Van-bruntiae)
Both plants have terminal clusters of a few five-petaled, blue bells,½” by 3/4”. The leaves have paired, 1” to 2” leaflets , suggesting, “ladders.” Jacob’s Ladder has more rungs on its ladder and has stamens extending beyond the petals. It grows 1” to 3”tall. It blooms in late May. Valerian grows 8” to 15” tall. It blooms in earlyMay.

???Large Flowered Bellwort
(Uvularia grandiflora)
The three petals and three sepals join to form the 3” lemon-yellow, long twisted bell flowers . They droop from one branch of a forked stem which has alternate 3” to 5” leaves on both branches. The plant is up to 20” tall. It blooms in early May.