Spring Ephemerals

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in bloom.
Photographer: Matt Jones
Many forest and woodland wildflowers complete most of their growth cycle in the early spring. They bloom and photosynthesize while the forest floor is still flooded with sunlight before it becomes shaded by a canopy of newly emerging tree leaves. These often showy wildflowers are sometimes called spring ephemerals because they make a brief appearance in the spring, and are inconspicuous (or, in some cases, dormant below ground) during other seasons. Dutchman’s breeches, mayapple, yellow trout-lily, Virginia springbeauty, cutleaf toothwort, bloodroot, and Virginia bluebells are just a few examples.