Wildflowers on the RailTrail

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2nd tutorial–Bloodroot and Hepatica

22 April

Daisy like flowers always cheer me up.  I think that is why I love these Spring Ephemerals.


Bloodroot comes up in a cloak, wrapped like Phantom of the Opera and has a large daisy-like flower.  Only one flower to a leaf and with 8 to 12 petals, quite spectacular.  It can be a light pink but is generally pure white.  There are double bloodroot, but I have not seen these in the wild.  They grow on the steep slopes with the Dutchmen’s Breeches and Meadow Rue.  I think this is to protect themselves from rabbits.  I have seen my plants disappear after a raid by bunnies or deer.  They get their name from the orange-red juice in the stems.  Only 3-6 inches high, they are spectacular but are pollinated quickly and drop the blooms once pollinated. (After 3 days they will self pollinate in the absence of pollinators). Small mining bees are the primary pollinators.  The beautiful leaf remains into June  if there is enough soil moisture.  A carpet of these is truly magnificent.  It is an indication of a healthy population of native ants which gather and eat the seeds, distributing them across their range.  Here is a link to our page on Bloodroot:  Bloodroot  

  A patch of Bloodroot along the Rail Trail


Hepatica are another favorite early flower.  The three-lobed leaves (where the name meaning liver leaf comes from) persist in the winter and are quite desiccated and ugly when the snow melts.  From the base of the plant, dainty buds rise above the dead leaves and open to white, pink or blue gems.  Like most other early flowers, they do not open if it is too cold or overcast, so when the sun shines they are spectacular.  They are pollinated by butterflies, moths, bees, flies and beetles so it needs to be warm enough for them to be moving.  They will also self pollinate if no pollinators are available.  I have found the best viewing to be at the Pine Haven Recreation area, because there are so many along the high area above Mud Creek and Salt River.  According to neighbors, they used to be along all the waterways in the county.  Now they are a wonderful rare gift.  Here is some more information about the 2 types of Hepatica in Michigan.

 Hepatica, Round-lobed / Liverwort       Hepatica, Sharp-lobed / Liverleaf  

Some white flowered Hepatica


Hepatica, pink flowered

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