Woodland Flowers of Spring and Early Summer

Painted trillium at Brighton State Park 
After a long winter, it’s a treat to watch the progression of wild flowers in the woods throughout the spring months. First to arrive are the spring ephemerals, often first spotted at the end of winter, pushing up through the snow on the ground. The name ephemeral hints at the reality- these small flowers bloom and fade before the trees canopy grows and crowds out the sunlight. Ephemerals seem to pop out of the grey and brown landscape of Vermont woodlands and are a treat for those looking for signs of warmer weather. Other flowers follow in a burst of color, and trees leaf out seemingly overnight. By early June, a walk in the woods feels like another world- one of a million shades and textures of green, and it a different collection of colored blooms. Here are some finds from parks around Vermont this season.

Spring beauty  

This small flower is one of the first signs of spring in eastern woodlands. Spring Beauty is seemingly delicate, but is in fact tough and able to withstand the cold weather of early spring.

Spotted near: Branbury State Park in Salisbury 


Trillium is a perennial springtime favorite in the woodlands of Vermont, sometimes spotted growing
in large colonies. There are several species of trillium in red, white and pink. Painted trillium was spotted this spring at Brighton State Park in Island Pond. White trillium is often seen at Mt. Philo in Charlotte and Kingsland Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh.

A rare double trillium bloomed this year at Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester. If you visit the park in the spring, ask ranger Lisa if it is blooming and she’ll give you directions on how to find it!

Spotted at: Brighton, Kingsland Bay, Mt. Philo, and Niquette Bay State Parks

Starflower at Wilgus State Park

This tiny flower was new to me when I spotted it this year at Wilgus State Park. It’s eye-catching despite the small size, and a case of the name and physical flower agreeing perfectly. Starflower is a North American perennial that blooms in woods all across the eastern United States and Canada in May and June. Related species can be found in the Rocky Mountains and Pacific North America.

Spotted at: Wilgus State Park in Weathersfield

Jack in the pulpit

Spotted not far from the starflower at Wilgus State Park on a morning in May. Jack in the pulpit is distinctive with its’ three-leaves and hood, and is common in eastern woodlands from Nova Scotia to Florida.

Spotted at: Wilgus State Park in Weathersfield

Lady’s slipper

There are several species of lady slipper orchids native to North America, including the showy lady slipper and the pink lady slipper (also called moccasin flower) which can also come in yellow and white. These orchids are found through the eastern United States and Canada, and bloom between May and July. Rare in Vermont, a colony of showy lady's slippers bloom every year at Eshqua Bog in Hartland. 

Spotted at: Lowell Lake State Park in Londonderry, and Seyon Lodge State Park in the Groton State Forest 


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