The Earliest, but Fleeting, Spring Ephemerals in Bloom

21, Apr, 2015 Darrah Cole

Greener and greener! Finally, spring is here and the plants along the Greenway are responding to sun, warmth and longer days. Some of my favorites will be blooming soon, and they go fast when the weather is like it has been lately – hovering near 60 degrees.
Spring ephemerals are the delicate, colorful, unusual plants that emerge in early spring, show their colors and fade away by summer with food stored away for another year. Some of these are bulbs, some tubers and some corms – most any form that allows the plant to capture enough energy and carbohydrates to sustain this early push of spring growth.


Hybrid crocus mix in all purples “Majestic Lavender Mix’ in the Urban Arboretum

The small species and larger hybrid crocus are in full bloom, or just finishing, now. You can see nice displays in the Urban Arboretum, the Wharf parks –especially in the east bed near the Rings Fountain –and scattered in the North End beds and lawn.


Chionadoxa forbessii (Glory of the Snow) in  Fort Point Channel Parks


Close up of Chionadoxa forbessii – showing the star like white center.

The blue haze emerging here and there are the sweeps of Chionadoxa (Glory of the Snow) coming up. The foliage is shiny green, often tinged red by the cold. The flowers are an icy blue, sometimes streaked with white.

Following the Chionadoxa are the prolific, but still small,  Frittilaria mealeagris, or Guinea Hen flower.


Frittilaria meleagris blooming above the retaining wall along Congress Street.


Frittilaria raddeana is a  larger relative of the checkered F. meleagris,

There is an expanding group of these wonderfully checkered flowers along Congress street. Here in this well draining, meadow like slope you will see two more favorites – the fleeting Mertensia virginiana (Virginia Bluebells)and slightly longer flowering Erythronium (Dogtooth violet).
Shortly after these ephemerals bloom I look forward to the riot of large flowered narcissus and species, or wild, tulips. These deserve a story all their own, which will be coming soon.