The winters in Missouri can seem extremely long and relentless with abundant cold winds and snowfalls. When temperatures begin to warm in late March and continue through early May the sunshine penetrates tree canopies and reaches the forest floors. This warming of the ground helps spring wildflowers to emerge, even if for a short time. Spring ephemerals in Missouri have a very short life, so these wildflowers are only present in spring. In most of the state, the prime viewing times for spring wildflowers is in mid-April.
Bloodroot is one of the first spring flowers to appear in the Ozarks. It is a flowering plant with white petals and a delicate yellow center. There are many species of bloodroot and they grow from about 8 to 20 inches tall. These flowers have a bright orange sap this is poisonous. The flowers actually bloom before the leaves come out, so that the flowers just appear on stalks alone.
Hepatica is in the daisy family and is very short at only about 6 inches tall. This flower is usually found on rocky and wooded slopes, in ravine bottoms and on moss covered banks and ledges. The stalks appear hairy and sport small flowers that re ½ inch to 1 inch in diameter. The blooms may be white, light blue or lavender.
This is a taller wildflower native to Missouri. It is in the buttercup family and rises up to 9 inches tall. It has thin and tall reddish-brown stems that bear either pink or white blossoms.
Spiderwort grows in a clumping fashion. The clumps can reach up to approximately 2 feet tall. The flowers are bright blue and have a light, sweet fragrance. There are about 70 species of this flower and other colors may include violet, rose red, purple and white depending on the variety. The flowers only last one to two days, but new blossoms emerge daily to take the place of the faded blooms.
This plant ranges in height from 1 to 1 ½ feet tall with a light green hairy stem. The upper stem may hold either one flower or up to four on the very top in a vibrant, yellow color.
This wildflower is between 4 and 12 inches tall with a light green stem. The flowers are prolific with two larger lower petals in a dazzling shade of blue and two smaller petals on the top that are white. This is one of the favorites that hikers follow trails to find and photograph in all its glory.
Wild azaleas are also sometimes called roseshell azalea. It is a Missouri native shrub found along north facing slopes and ravines with woods and along the many streams and rivers. Flowers are about 1 ½ inch across in a bright, cheery pink color. They blooms hang in groups of 5 to 9 flowers on each stem. The blooms are fragrant with clove fragrance.
The Missouri violet has stalks that vary in color from a pale green to a pale greenish-red with one small blue flower per stalk. Each flower is about ½ to ¾ inches across with 5 pale violet petals and white hairs near the center of the flower.
Buttercups abound in the national parks of Missouri as bright yellow wildflowers with a cone in the center. It usually has five petals that may also be white with a red, pink or purple flush as the petals reach the center of the flower.
The may be the most sought after wildflower in the state because of its unique appearance. It gets its name from flowers that dangle downward that resemble pantaloons hanging upside down. The flowers are about ¾ inch long and a white to light pink color with a yellow line on the flower’s bottom. Clusters of 4 to 10 flowers hang on each 5 to 10 inch stalk for a dazzling display.
For a dazzling display of Missouri’s spring wildflowers, you can visit one of the many State Parks that have wildflower walks on which to find some of these beauties. Hiking trails near the streams and lakes also have beautiful blooms that emerge in the spring for a short time. You will most probably want to take a camera with you to capture these captivating sights.