Spring has sprung! Well, wait. Not yet. We have set our clocks forward an hour, but spring still seems to be alluding us here in the deep south. The official first day of spring is right around the corner – March 20th – so maybe the weather and our natural environment will take note and begin waking up.
The state of Alabama is the fifth most floristically diverse state in the United States – what does this mean? Alabama boasts over 4,000 native plant species! Here are a few native species that pop out first in the spring. So, take a stroll through your neighborhood, park, or closest woods and see if you can spot one of these early bloomers.
Native plant resources:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: The Native Plant Information Network
Find Native Plants: http://findnativeplants.com/south/alabama-native-plants/
Scientific name: Cornus florida
Common names: Flowering dogwood
Bloom time: April to May
Where to find: This species grows in the understory layer under larger trees in the forest. Dogwoods grow well on flats and on lower or middle slopes, not as well on upper slopes and ridges.
How to grow: Grow in well-drained soils in partial shade. Prefers moist, organically rich, acidic soils.
Height: 15 to 30 feet
1. Cornus florida_yard - http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/
2. Cornus florida_wild - http://mdc.mo.gov/
Scientific name: Rhododendron alabamense
Common names: Alabama azalea
Bloom time: Early to mid spring
Where to find: Dry, open woods and rich, wooded slopes. The shrub has snowy white flowers with a prominent yellow blotch and a distinct lemon-spice fragrance.
How to grow: Grow in shady spots with acidic and well-drained soil.
Height: 5 to 6 feet
1. Wild: http://www.discoverlife.org/
2. Yard: http://www.naturallandscapesnursery.com/
3. Close up http://www.naturallandscapesnursery.com/
Scientific name: Aquilegia canadensis
Common names: Eastern Columbine
Bloom time: Late winter to early spring
Where to find: Forests, woodlands, and rock outcrops.
How to grow: Perfect for woodland gardens planted in masses or semishady borders.
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Scientific name: Anemone virginiana
Common names: Thimbleweed
Bloom time: May, June, July
Where to find: Woodlands, Forest Edges, Prairies, Meadows, Fields
How to grow: Dry or moist, rich, acid soils.
Height: 1 to 2 feet