Crow’s Nest: May flowers in April

April 28, 2023

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Nodding trillium in flower; white three-petal flower hidden under leaves

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Now is the time to get to the preserve for peak spring wildflowers. Many are running 1 – 2 weeks early. Above, nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum) has started blooming; there are some in the woods between the parking lot and visitor center. You might have to lift the leaves to see the flowers.

Pinxterbloom azalea in bud--clusters of pointed pink flower buds like crowns

Photo: Daniel Barringer

You can see pinxterbloom azalea (Rhododendron pericliminoides) at the edge of the woods along Piersol Road across from our visitor center. Don’t be fooled by my selection of this photo of it in bud; while some look like this today, others have already opened and display their delicate long stamens.

Showy orchis in flower; purple and white lipped flowers

You have to hike a bit to see the showy orchis (Galearis spectabilis), but it’s not hard to find. It’s growing along the Deep Woods and Fox Hill Trails south of Northside Road.

Bear corn--cluster of flowers like corn on the cob

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Also on the Fox Hill Trail we spied clusters of bear corn (Conopholis americana), also called American cancer-root. It’s a parasitic plant usually found under oak trees; it has no leaves of its own.

Red (actually orange) salamander with black spots on gravel

Photo: Daniel Barringer

It’s not all about flowers; I saw this red salamander (Psuedotriton ruber) in the gravel farm lane.

Vista of spring fields and forest at Crow's Nest Preserve

Photo: Daniel Barringer

And it’s not even all about looking down. This is a spectacular time of year.

Two rows of parallel leaves of Solomon's plume

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Many more flowers are about to bloom: this Solomon’s plume (Maianthemum racemosum) is in bud. For now, I’ll enjoy the leaf arrangement. (The slightly similar Solomon’s seal—Polygonatum biflorum—is also beginning to bloom.) Keep in mind that the plants profiled here are only a fraction of what you can see at Crow’s Nest Preserve.

Bladder-like flower of pink ladies' slipper

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Normally I begin looking for pink ladies’ slipper (Cypripedium acaule) in early May, but since I saw other species were ahead of the season I checked ours. Some are just starting but others are in full bloom.