It looks like the warm weather might finally be here to stay. Already the forest is starting to show signs of life again. The Spicebush is in bloom and the forest floor is carpeted in hues of white, purple and pink.

 It may still seem too cold for delicate flowers to be blooming, but many species of wildflowers have adopted this early growing season and have unique strategies for dealing with the unpredictable weather. During the spring sunlight reaches the forest floor and warms the soil since the forest canopy has not yet emerged.

These early bloomers are known as ‘spring ephemerals’ which best describes their early and brief life cycles. The word ‘ephemeral’ refers to the plants’ flowers, not the plant itself. The leaves of these plants remain all summer long to produce the food which will then be used to develop next year’s early bloom.

A walk down Spicebush Trail will showcase the many spring ephemerals here at Rondeau Provincial Park. One of the earliest to bloom is Hepatica, sometimes being seen as early as late March. Luckily for Hepatica, it doesn’t rely on visiting insects for pollination as there wouldn’t be many around…it can fertilize itself!

Round-lobed Hepatica

Another early bloomer is Bloodroot. Look for its distinct leaf which stands on a separate stalk just behind the white bloom. It is the bright orange-red juice that runs through the stem and leaves of this plant that give it its name. The large white flowers only last for a day or two so you need to hurry to see them!

If you are interested in learning more about the wildflowers of Rondeau, come out and join us on one of our wildflower hikes during the month of May. We are also gearing up for our Festival of Flight which runs from May 4th – 20th. The Visitor Centre will be open from 7:00am – 5:00pm to greet birders from around the world and help them connect with the beautiful songbirds that migrate through the park this month.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to welcomeSarah Fleischhauerto the Rondeau team. Sarah is filling in the Summer Naturalist position at the Visitor Centre – so come down and introduce yourself to her!


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