Colorful Seasons Ahead

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As April comes to a chilly end, and we wrap up the first Ohio Native Plant Month, keep in mind that the season for native plants is just beginning.  We have gotten a peek at the beginning of the spring wildflower season, but there are still a lot of surprises to look forward to in the coming months.  The forest floor has already awakened with the early bloomers, but will soon be alive with blooms of great white trillium and the purple flowers of wild geranium.  Later in May, the Oak Openings Region’s landscape will brighten with the presence of wild lupine in the savannas and golden ragwort in the wet woodlands. 

The summer sun will warm the prairies and meadows, throwing a spotlight on the beautiful array of colors of blue vervain, mountain mint, and milkweeds. Tall ironweed and Joe-pye weed will tower above the rest showing off their brilliant purple hues.  Many pollinators will be found visiting favorite plants like wild bergamot, butterfly milkweed, blazing star and wild senna.  Take notice of the different species you may see---from bumblebees to small sweat bees to wasps. From the Monarch visiting the milkweeds to the many different bees buzzing from one bloom to the next, it all becomes a spectacular show! 

As the summer blooms begin to fade, they are replaced by the brilliant yellows and purples and dazzling whites of the goldenrods and asters.  Flocks of goldfinches can often be spotted participating in a fall feast on the seed of the green-headed coneflower, tall coreopsis and giant sunflower. This species has an undulating flight like a rollercoaster and is easy to identify while flying over the swaying tops of our native grasses, like indian grass and bluestems. 

So continue to hit the trails and celebrate many of the different species that grow in the natural areas of the Metroparks. As you notice the many colors and species of these native eco-type plants in the Metroparks throughout the seasons, keep in mind their journey. Some of these plants were added to the landscape by Metroparks for pollinators and/or as part of a larger scale restoration effort. A native plant’s remarkable journey would have started with a seed collected from a natural area in northwest Ohio or grown as part of a large, 19 acre propagation field of 89 native plant species at Blue Creek Metropark.  

Did you know?
Big bluestem can grow to a height of 9 feet and gets its nickname turkey foot from the shape of its seed head.