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Mr. Smarty Plants - First to Bloom in Western PA

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Saturday - October 02, 2010

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

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