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Wildflower Viewing

Michigan in spring is in bloom with the season's first dramatic display of wildflowers. These flowering plants are found throughout the state of Michigan, in every county, and their colors can be found right up until the first frosts of Autumn. Flowering plants occur in various forms from the grasses, trees, shrubs, and sedges to the soft-stemmed flowers. Their flowers can be just as varied from the tiny yellow flowers of Pennsylvania sedge to the showy flowers of woodland trilliums.

Now is the time to seize the opportunity and discover the diversity of plants as you sample this greening "season" of Michigan.

In the wet areas, along the streams and swales, can be seen the blue flag iris with its lime green lance shaped leaves and purple iris flower. This plant is the wild variety of the highly popular garden iris. Interspersed with the iris are the golden flat waxy blossoms of "Cow slips" or Marsh marigolds.

Tucked along the sun-dappled hillsides, within the leafless maples and beech trees, are carpets of woodland wildflowers. Look closely and you can see the blueberry colored flowers of the Hepatica with its blossoms set upon tender hairy stems. These are some of the first blossoms of spring. Intermixed will be other spring woodland flowers including the creamy white pantaloons of Dutchman's breeches and the brilliant yellow trout lily. Off the forest floor, you can find the burst of white flowers in shrubs such as the juneberry or flowering dogwood.

 Wildflowers by Don Petersen

Blooming times of wildflowers will vary within different climatic conditions, soil fertility, early or late leafout, and minor fluctuations in elevation. Many wild blooms produce inflorescence, flower clusters on a stem of different shapes including spikes of yellow mullein, flat heads of Anemones, racemes of Camas lily, and the urn-shaped flowers of Leather leaf.

Several types of wild blooms produce a fragrance with scents similar to that of other plants. Such as, the sweet hay smell of bedstraws, or the white dots of the pepper grass flower. Honey aromas may surround you walking among red clover blossoms. You will remember the cool, clean smell of the waxy evergreen leaves of wintergreen.

Don't forget to seek out the flowering grasses. On Michigan's dune areas the heavy flower spikes of the American beach grasses wave their greeting. Or visit the open meadows to find the clumps of little blue stems, indian grass, or big blue stem.

Your journeys of wildflower discoveries will take you through Michigan's major flower seasons. These stunning displays of natural resources will continue to delight all who venture out in Michigan. To help you in your search, the Michigan Wildflower Viewing Guide is available on the DNR website, visit it for more wildflower information.