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Ever Hear of Ephemerals?

Ephemeral Native Woodland Plants

Photo credit - USDA ARS



Native Ephemerals 

Ephemerals are woodland plants that bloom prior to the canopy of the trees coming out to block the sun.  They require rich organic soils and were used by the Native Americans as cures for maladies. They are very long lived, and most take many years to flower.  All are utilized by native bees as a source for food and many limit entrance to their flower to a specific bee. 

They are becoming extremely hard to find due to habitat fragmentation, over foraging, and pesticide applications.  Ephemerals have strong stems to force themselves through the often-wet forest leaves in the early spring so the seeds are heavy and not wind dispersed. Most require ants to move their seed. Each seed is coated with a substance (elaiosome), that ants love so they collect the seeds and take them to their nest eating the substance and depositing the seeds in their tunnels. It can take several years for the seeds to germinate.  

The following are a few examples of ephemerals: 


Native Ephemeral Chart


You can find these plants growing naturally in many of our parks.  If found it is best not to disturb or walk on them. 

Many can be purchased from local garden centers, but they are not found in great quantities.  Dainty, colorful woodland, early spring plants that provide our pollinators with early energy are a great native addition to your property and help increase biodiversity.   

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