Several kinds of native, woodland wildflowers bloom in many woods in April in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Some more common of those flowering plants are, in a debatable order of blooming, bloodroots and spring beauties, Dutchman’s breeches, trout lilies and wild ginger, and Virginia bluebells and erect trillium.
These plants are small and simple, except bluebells and trilliums. Fuzzy flies shaped like bees, called bee flies, pollinate those blossoms as they sip nectar.
These wildflowers adapted to growing and blooming in April because there is no foliage on deciduous trees, allowing sunlight to reach and warm the carpet of dead leaves and soil on woodland floors. Forest floors are warmer in April than any other month, encouraging the growth of woodland wildflowers that beautifies woods’ floors.
Bloodroots and spring beauties bloom early in April. Bloodroots each have one scalloped leaf and one white flower that looks like a small tulip until it opens completely to be pollinated.
This plant also has reddish-orange sap in its roots that American Indians used as a dye and gives the plant its name. Bloodroot also blooms along roadsides that were cut into woodlands.
Each spring beauty has a few grass-like leaves and pale-pink flowers that bloom a few at a time for a month. This species colonized certain meadows that were created from woodlands. Some sections of those pastures are pink with spring beauty blossoms. American Indians boiled and ate their bulbs, as we do small potatoes.
Dutchman’s breeches, trout lily, and wild ginger commonly bloom in many woods in the middle of April. Each breeches plant has fern-like foliage and a stem of flowers that are lined like tiny, white pantaloons on a wash line. Those blooms also remind me of molar teeth with their roots pointing up.
Each trout lily has a single yellow blossom and twin dappled leaves. Trout lilies colonize bottomland woods’ floors.
Wild gingers are unique in that their brownish-purple blossom, one per plant, is under its two glossy, heart-shaped leaves. These flowers are fertilized mostly by ants.
Bushy Virginia bluebells have several sky-blue flowers shaped like bells, and foot-tall erect trillium has one big, white bloom by the third week of April. Beautiful, mixed patches of bluebells and white trillium seem to mirror the sky.
This April, or succeeding ones, visit woods to see wildflowers. They are wonderfully attractive.