There, in the brown leaf-covered ground a little patch of green. Every year it has showed up at this time. Big leaves growing fast and soon to have some red blossoms. It is a clump of the flowering plant trillium. A special spring wildflower.

We have to enjoy it fast as it is an edible. In just a few days after the blossoms show, a deer will find it and it will be gone for another year.

Down the hill and on the edge of our swamp is another member of the trillium species which grows taller and will have white blossoms which will slowly turn pink just before they fall off. These plants, as soon as their blossoms appear, stink with a very unpleasant odor. They grow in much more abundance and don’t seem to be enjoyed by the deer. A local name for the is stinking Benjamin.

There are eight species of trillium of which I have found only two on our farm. All Trilliums are relatives of the lily family.

On the shady side of our house my wife has moved a few Jack-in-the-pulpits so a plant, oftentimes overlooked in a moist spring woods, can be enjoyed as it thrives. The hooded flower of Jack standing in his pulpit turns to a group of close berries that, when ripe, drop off and spread the plants if the soil is right.

The plant is also called Indian turnip, and the bulb or corm was used as food by early Americans. It must not be eaten raw. It was boiled or baked and then peeled, dried and pounded into a flour used to make pancake-style bread.

The third flower is the lady-slipper and its close cousin the moccasin flower. Both are plants with flowers that resemble slippers. You should enjoy looking at them but you shouldn’t pick them. These plants are covered with hundreds of somewhat sticky hairs covered with fatty acid that is poisonous to many people. The acid causes blisters and inflammation similar to poison ivy in eight to ten hours.

Because the ground cover hasn’t, for the most part, turned green; these special spring beauties are easy to spot on a hike in the woods.

As you enjoy looking for these plants; make sure you are wearing tick and bug repellent and give yourself a good look-over so you can get ticked off about the whole ordeal.


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