The start of this year felt and looked like spring was arriving four weeks early in the High Country. Unfortunately, the ornamental cherries and magnolias on campus that started blooming at the end of February lost their flowers in the early March freeze we had. Fortunately though, the wildflowers were not affected by the unusually warm late winter temperatures followed by the deep freeze. They may still be a bit earlier than average this year but much closer to their normal schedule up here in the mountains. Easter weekend to early May should be a good time to plan some hikes to see the spring wildflowers around Boone.
The early bloomers I have seen out so far in the woods include liverleaf (Hepatica acutiloba), spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), and the first yellow violets (mostly Viola hastata). Other plants have their foliage up and are budding but no flowers yet, so more blooms will be coming over the next couple of weeks.
If you would like to join a guided hike this spring to see the wildflowers and get to know what they are, there are plenty of opportunities coming up!
Next week (April 11-15) is the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (https://www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org/), where several of our faculty traditionally participate as hike leaders. Being a little further south, the Smokies are usually ahead of the High Country around Boone in terms of peak bloom time, so it should be a great wildflower show next week.
Closer to Boone, Grandfather Mountain State Park is holding a series of ranger-guided Spring Wildflower Walks. They will have several walks every weekend through April and these are a great opportunity to keep up with the progression of blooms. Some of our wildflowers bloom for just a short period of time, so the forest floor looks different from week to week. You can find a list of these walks (and other wildflower-related events) on my web page at: http://www.appstate.edu/~rosea/wildflower.html
The Biology Department will again host a guided tour of the ASU Nature Preserve on campus following Open House on Saturday, April 22. This area has a great variety of wildflowers at this time of the year. We'll meet at 1 PM in front of the Geology Museum in the lobby of Rankin Science South and walk from there. If you would like to join the walk at the entrance to the Nature Preserve in the Greenwood Parking Lot (near the Chancellor's house) further up the mountain, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following weekend, faculty and students from the Biology Department will participate in leading wildflower, bird and pollinator walks at the Daniel Boone Native Gardens' annual plant sale fundraiser on Saturday, April 29, from 9 AM to 1 PM (http://danielboonenativegardens.org/wildflower-walk--plant-sale-pd-34.php). Our Greenhouse Manager along with students and volunteers have also been busy all year propagating native plants from seeds at the Biology Greenhouse for this sale. If you're looking for some wildflowers to plant in your yard, plan on stopping by!
In early May, the North Carolina Native Plant Society will be holding their Spring Outing right here in Boone (http://ncwildflower.org/ncnps/event_details/2017-spring-outing). Again, several of our faculty are participating either by giving talks or leading hikes (or both). This event would be a great opportunity to get in touch with other wildflower enthusiasts from all over North Carolina.
Pictures: Cutleaf Toothwort, Spring Beauties and Halberd-leaved Yellow Violet from Grandfather Mountain State Park