A Throng of Spring Flowers at the Mt. Cuba Center
Beyond the Trilliums and Trout Lilies, Mt. Cuba Center was bursting with a multitude of spring blooms, mostly ephemerals. Below you’ll find just some of the many species we found (some of the IDs are shakier than others, corrections are always appreciated).
I was happy to see the woodland floor was full of yellow Celandine Poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) and blue Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). I have lots of both in my own garden.
A former neighbor of mine disapproved of the Celandine Poppies, considering them weeds as they grew wild in the forest preserves and along roadsides. In this argument, the Mt. Cuba Center is on my side, thank you very much.
This is ‘Pink Pearl’ Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), a variety developed by the Mt. Cuba Center. Part of the Center’s mission is to promote garden use of native wildflowers such as this delicate and lovely woodland ephemeral.
Wild Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia). Funny that the native Bleeding Heart is still a Dicentra, while the exotic Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart has been saddled with the rather clunky genus name Lamprocapnos (L. spectabilis).
I think I prefer the White Wild Bleeding Heart (D. eximia var. ‘Alba’) over the pink.
I’m pretty sure that this is also a Rue Anemone (T. thalictroides), and not a False Rue Anemone (Enemion biternatum). There is plenty of both at the Mt. Cuba Center.
Sessile Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia) is a delicate species with pale yellow tubular flowers.
It’s cousin, Great Merrybells (U. grandiflora) appears more robust. We have several clumps of this wildflower in our garden. I love the dangling, bright yellow flowers. In my experience, the foliage of this plant will last all season in moist shade.
Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla).
Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica). This is a wildflower that can thrive even on land that has been used for logging or grazing. The tubers are edible, too.
I think this is Anemone nemerosa, but could it be A. canadensis? Both are wildflowers, but A. nemerosa is native to Europe.
Barren strawberry (Geum fragarioides).
Allegheny Spurge (Pachysandra procumbens). This is a native cousin to the Japanese Spurge (P. terminalis), which in my opinion is way overused in American gardens. I’m not really fond of either one, though I the Allegheny Spurge has nicer flowers that are important to native pollinators.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) growing through Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum).
We found big patches of tiny Bluets (Houstonia caerulia) growing through moss along the path. They are also called Quaker Ladies for reasons not clear to me.
Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria).
The ferns were just emerging at the time of our visit. There were plenty of intriguing fiddleheads to gaze at.
Few shrubs were in bloom though we did enjoy the fragrant flowers of Dwarf Fothergilla (F. gardenii).
Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans).
Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne).
Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia) is a very rare wildflower, considered endangered in two states. Its native range runs from Georgia to Virginia, plus Tennessee. You have to get up close to appreciate its cuteness.
Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) were also in bloom.
As well as one species of Azalea – Plumleaf Azalea (Rhododendron prunifolium).
And finally, a Sharp Lobed Hepatica (H. acutiloba).
In April, Mt. Cuba Center is absolutely the place to be for people who love spring wildflowers. A visit is a chance to luxuriate in all the floral beauty, but also to recognize the work they are doing to conserve our botanical heritage.