En EspaÑol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - October 02, 2010

From: Butler, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: First to Bloom in Western PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart


What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom in Butler, PA?


There is no definitive answer to your question.  In the north the earliest wildflowers to bloom are the woodland ephemerals. They squeeze their whole cycle into the early spring while the sunlight reaches the ground.  By the time the leaves are on the trees, shading the forest floor, many of these plants are getting ready to go dormant. Below is a list of early spring wildflowers found in western Pennsylvania. Two of the earliest could be:

Erigenia bulbosa (harbinger of spring) and Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)

which could bloom as early as February, depending on factors such as location and winter snow cover. 

The remainder of the flowers on the list could begin blooming in March.  They can't really be put in "spring appearance" order since when a plant blooms depends on its location and microclimate but I do think I could put Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) near the beginning of the list.

Erythronium americanum (dogtooth violet)

Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)

Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)

Ranunculus fascicularis (early buttercup)

Stylophorum diphyllum (celandine poppy)

Cardamine douglassii (limestone bittercress)  and photos

Hepatica nobilis var. acuta (sharplobe hepatica)

Thalictrum thalictroides (rue anemone)

Saxifraga virginiensis (early saxifrage)

Claytonia virginica (Virginia springbeauty)

Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina springbeauty)

Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Draba verna (Whitlow grass or spring draba)

You can find more native plants of Pennsylvania by doing a "Combination Search" in our Native Plant Database and you can "Narrow Your Search" by using various Characters (e.g., Habit (general appearance), Light requirement, etc.).

Visit the Western Pennsylvania Wildflowers page to find more photos of the above plants (search alphabetically by common name) as well as many more plants, both native and non-native, found in western Pennsylvania.

Erigenia bulbosa

Symplocarpus foetidus

Taraxacum officinale

Erythronium americanum

Epigaea repens

Sanguinaria canadensis

Ranunculus fascicularis

Stylophorum diphyllum

Hepatica nobilis var. acuta

Thalictrum thalictroides

Saxifraga virginiensis

Claytonia virginica

Claytonia caroliniana

Viola sororia





More Wildflowers Questions

Mowing frequency of native lawn from Georgetown TX
August 18, 2012 - I have a native grass and wildflower lawn. At what frequency and when should the lawn be mowed?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for flood plain in Minnesota
December 05, 2008 - Hi- Our home sits on 2 acres with about 1 of the acres in a flood plain area. That 1 acre has water running through it when the snow melts off and it generally dries up in 2 days. It is currently plan...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Lupinus havardii seeds from Elmendorf TX
April 25, 2014 - I have been able to grow several Lupinus havardii (Big Bend Bluebonnet) and they are now making seed. Is there anyway to determine if a seed is good or bad for this plant?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for wedding mid-spring in Austin, TX
November 10, 2006 - My fiancé and I are both native Texans, and we are looking to have a beautiful yet simple wedding on March 31, 2007. We would love to use TX wildflowers. Our colors are white, orange, and blue. Wo...
view the full question and answer

Planning a park along a railroad track in Williamston, SC
May 14, 2008 - We have a railroad track in Williamston, and we are cleaning up the park. Removing trees, planting flowers,shrubs. The track is on high ground and the Fire Dept. has burnt off the weeds. What kind of...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center