Spring buds continue to emerge throughout The Morton Arboretum in both subtle and vibrant displays, whether shyly tucked into the arms of a majestic oak or carpeting entire hillsides in riotous colors. Recent heavy rainfall and warmer temperatures are helping to bring spring into full focus, slowly eclipsing the stillness and cold of the months behind us. In this season of blossoming and rebirth, continue to safely enjoy the seasonal changes in your own neighborhood.
About this week's featured blooms
- Cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) With delicate, dangly white flowers, this widespread wildflower has toothlike projections on its fleshy roots. It is sometimes called pepperroot for its spicy-flavored rhizomes.
- Autumn flame red maple (Acer rubrum ‘Autumn Flame’) Red maple is one of the earliest trees to flower in spring. The flowers give the tree’s branches an overall red cast. The tree blooms before its leaves unfold because it depends on wind to waft pollen from male to female flowers and fertilize them. Leaves would get in the way.
- Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) The umbrellalike leaves of mayapple are a familiar sight in spring from Maine to Texas, growing in large colonies that spread by underground stems from a single plant. A white flower, borne beneath the leaves, develops into a green fruit.
- Bear oak (Quercus ilicifolia) Male flowers, which will develop into dangling catkins, emerge on twigs of bear oak, a shrubby plant native to the eastern United States. Oaks, like many trees, are wind-pollinated, with male and female flowers on the same plant.
- Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) This wildflower creates a blue carpet in May in parts of the East Woods. Native across the eastern United States, this flower was dubbed “bluebell” by early colonists because it reminded them of the English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), an unrelated plant that has blue flowers and grows in British woodlands in spring.