Every day is a great day for getting out and enjoying a little “Natural North Dakota.” But this time of the year is a real treat. The birds are active and warblers are moving through the area. Mammals and other animals are quite active as well. And if you have some woodlands nearby, and most of us do, now is a great time to go explore those woodlands and enjoy the woodland spring wildflowers.
There is plenty to observe while walking in the woods, but when it comes to wildflowers, spring and early summer is arguably the best. Most woodland wildflowers will bloom before the trees and shrubs become fully leafed out. After that, most of the later blooming flowers will often be restricted to areas in and near openings in the forest canopy such as that found along hiking trails. And there is something special about seeing the spring wildflowers in bloom.
You can expect to see several species flowering now or in the near future, but here are a few of the more common and interesting ones:
Tall white violet (Viola canadensis): This violet can be found in woodlands across the state. You will notice dark lines on the lower petal which serve as “honey guides” to assist pollinators to find the nectar. The downy yellow violet (Viola pubescens) is also a common spring woodland violet in the eastern part of the state.
Wild lily-of-the-valley, Mayflower, or Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) can also be found across the state, and as the name implies, has a resemblance to the domesticated lily-of-the-valley. This species is occasionally sold as a flower for shaded habitats and gardens.
False Solomon’s seal or false spikenard (Maianthemum racemosum): This plant closely resembles the true Solomon’s seal but produces flowers in a terminal panicle. Both this and the true Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) can be found across most of the state, with the true Solomon’s seal blooming in early June.
Nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum): This wildflower has three large leaves. The solitary three petaled 1-2 inch white flower is easy to overlook because it hangs under the leaves and points downward. Look for it in woodlands roughly east of line from Bottineau County to Ransom County.
Wherever you go, these and the other spring wildflowers will make your walk through the woods enjoyable!