This web site describes small flowering plants likely to be found on the floor of the campus natural area, mainly during the months of March through May. Some of these plants remain in the forest throughout the entire growing season, but many disappear after the trees leaf out and the forest floor ceases to get enough light. Spring is one of the two most beautiful times to walk the natural area trails. (The other time is in the fall when the leaves are turning color.) When the trees are fully leafed out the light intensity that reaches the forest floor is only about 20% of what it was before the tree leaves appeared. Little herbaceous plants on the forest floor which have overwintered as seeds or roots have to make the best use of the very limited early season time when it is above freezing and there is still plenty of light reaching the floor of the forest. They grow quickly, flower, set seed, and die back again after the trees leaf out and light becomes limiting. In April and May the forest floor can be almost completely covered with green blossoming plants. The particular species in flower change daily, some withering while others come into bloom. By the middle of June this fantastic floral display is gone and there are very few green plants left growing on the forest floor.
One of the easiest ways to identify these little plants is by their flowers, and some flower for only a few days. The flowering dates mentioned in this web site are based on observations made at the OSU Lima Campus and on data published by the Dawes Arboretum at Newark Ohio.
Most wildflower illustrations used here were obtained from the Virtual Foliage Home Page at the University of Wisconsin Madison Campus. A booklet describing the wildflowers of the Tecumseh Natural Area is available here for download.
Click on the plant's common name to see a color photograph and short description.
Blue Phlox-- Phlox divaricata
Blue Violet-- Viola sororia
Bloodroot-- Sanguinaria canadensis
Cutleaf Toothwort-- Dentaria laciniata
Dandelion-- Taraxacum officinale
Dutchman's Breeches-- Dicentra cucullaria
False Solomon's Seal-- Smilacina racemosa
Fawn Lily-- Erythronium americanum
Harbinger of Spring-- Erigenia bulbosa
Jack-In-The-Pulpit-- Arisaema triphyullum
Kidney Leaf Crowfoot-- Ranunculus abortivus
Large Leaved Waterleaf-- Hydrophyllum macrophyllum
Marsh Marigold-- Caltha palustrus
Mayapple-- Podophyllem peltatum
Mealy bellwort, or Merrybells-- Uvularia perfoliata
Poison Ivy-- Toxicodendron radicans
Purple Cress-- Cardamine douglassii
Rue Anemone-- Anemonella thalictroides
Sessile Trillium-- Trillium sessile
Sharp Lobed Hepatica-- Hepatica acutiloba
Skunk Cabbage-- Symplocarpus foetidus
Solomon's Seal-- Polygonatum biflorum
Spring Beauty-- Claytonia virginica
Spring Cress-- Cardamine bulbosa
Squirrel corn-- Dicentra canadensis
Strawberry-- Fragaria virginiana
Virginia Creeper-- Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Wild Geranium, or Cranebill-- Geranium maculatum