Spring Wildflowers are Here!

My family had a picnic (in February!) in Hauck Botanic Garden the other night and while most of the grounds still felt dormant, we knew spring was on its way by the bright yellow winter aconites pushing up throughout the grounds. My boys frolicked along the yellow-speckled hillsides like a scene out of Heidi.

winter aconite
Winter aconite pushing up through leaves in February.

Eranthis hyemalis, or winter aconite, vies with snowdrops and Crocus tommasinianus as the earliest perennials to bloom at the Civic Garden Center. All three can be found by sharp-eyed visitors, but the winter aconite has the advantage of being the most numerous. Readily naturalizing (but easily controlled by judicious hand removal of seedlings), the winter aconite has spread widely through the various gardens here on the grounds.

In addition to its fecundity, it also captures the attention of visitors with bright yellow blooms that are fairly typical for species in the ranunculus family. Emerging as soon as winter warms in the slightest, Eranthis will continue blooming until early daffodils emerge to carry on the show.

Lesser celandine emerging in February

Visitors should note that Ranunculus ficaria (lesser celandine), similar in bloom to winter aconite but having wide, glossy leaves, begins blooming shortly after. Lesser celandine, is a noxious, difficult to eradicate weed that has also spread widely here. Gardeners should prevent the further spread of lesser celandine at all costs.

Stop by the Civic Garden Center to experience these harbingers of spring with your own eyes.

Crocus tommasinianus

– Ryan Mooney-Bullock and Paul Koloszar

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