Destinations Magazine

Early Spring Wildflowers at Cootes Paradise – Burlington

By Frame To Frame - Bob And Jean @frametoframebJ

round-lobed Hepatica, Cootes Paradise,  Burlington

April showers bring May flowers, and true to that adage, the forests in Cootes Paradise in Burlington are already liberally sprinkled with clumps of Round-lobed Hepatica (Anemone Americana).  We have been enjoying very warm temperatures here in Southern Ontario for the past few days, and in combination with the odd April shower, it has given rise to these early spring wildflowers.

round-lobed Hepatica and Leaves, Cootes Paradise,  Burlington

Scampering up the hillsides and along the trails, Round-lobed Hepatica provided a colourful contrast to the otherwise brown forest floor.  It is a native perennial that grows between 4-6 inches tall. The tuft of lobed  leaves that develop during the spring actually persist through the winter in shades of green, reddish brown or brownish green, as seen in my picture.

round-lobed Hepatica, Mauve, Cootes Paradise,  Burlington

Round-lobed Hepatica is one of the first spring wildflowers to come into bloom, usually with lavender flowers.

sharp-lobed Hepatica, White, Cootes Paradise,  Burlington

Growing in close proximity to the Round-lobed Hepatica were equal numbers of Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Anemone acutiloba).  These plants are very much like one another, except where it comes to the leaves.

sharp-lobed Hepatica and Leaves,  Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Both species of Hepatica bear blooms in shades of white, pink or mauve, but here, you can see that the leaves of the Sharp-lobed Hepatica are more pointed at the tips, and the lobes are more deeply cut.  Another common name for Hepatica is Liverleaf, which refers to the appearance and shape of the leaves.

sharp-lobed hepatica, Cootes Paradise,  Burlington

On both species of this plant, a single flower grows atop each slender, hairy stem.  The hairy stems help protect the plant by keeping a warm layer of air close to the plant when the spring temperatures drop to freezing.

sharp-lobed Hepatica Closeup,  Cootes Paradise, Burlington

The delicate flowers gaily bobbed in the breeze, but they will be short-lived.

Trout Lilies and Leaves, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

I had not expected to see Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) in bloom yet, but there, along the forest trails, a few of these delightful spring flowers had already been encouraged to open their buds.

Trout Lilies and Leaves, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

As a child, we used to call this flower Adder’s Tongue or Dog-Toothed Violet.  A pair of maroon-mottled leaves sheathes the base of each stalk that bears a solitary, nodding flower.

Trout Lily, Closeup, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Each flower is composed of petals and sepals that are bent backwards exposing six brown stamens.

Mayapples, Not Unfurled, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Not yet showing signs of flowers, the modest Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) had only recently pushed its way up out of the soil.  The dense shoots, composed of tightly-wrapped leaves, seemed to glow from within where the sunlight lit their white crowns.

Mayapples, Beginning to Unfurl, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

It won’t be long before each plant supports between 1-3 deeply-lobed leaves and one delicate white flower.  Although the common name is Mayapple, it is the flower that appears in early May, not the “apple”.  The fruit or “apple” is produced by early summer and ripens later in summer.   

Skunk Cabbage, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Since our last visit to Cootes Paradise, when Bob and I discovered the humble Skunk Cabbage in early bloom, we wanted to check the status of that plant’s development.

Skunk Cabbage Leaves Unfurling, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Skunk Cabbage Grows from Initial Bract, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Vibrant green leaves closely wrapped into themselves are now slowly unfurling in a spiraling pattern into what will become a beautiful clump of cabbage-shaped leaves.  In my photo, here, you can see the remains of the maroon-coloured bloom that preceded the growth of the leaves.

Skunk Cabbage Leaves  Unfurling, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Gradually a large, funnel-shaped rosette forms.  The largest leaves will reach three, occasionally four feet in length.

Skunk Cabbage Plants, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Skunk Cabbage Sprawl Along Hillside, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

Stands of the vigorously growing Skunk Cabbage scrambled up the hillsides, never venturing far from a source of water.  By mid-May, the surge of spring growth will peak, and the wetland will be flooded with wide swathes of robust Skunk Cabbage plants.

Skunk Cabbage along Stream, Cootes Paradise, Burlington

For now, the most hearty plants are those with their feet actually in water such as this one growing right at the edge of a stream.  Bob and I were careful to keep our own feet dry as we navigated the woodland environment in search of more wondrous things to see and experience.

Checkout some of our other plant & gardening posts

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Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens, Holland

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Giverny and the Water Pond:  Part of Monet’s Legacy

A garden arbor at the Château de la Bourdaisière Castle in France

The Award-winning Gardens at Château de la Bourdaisière,  France

Skunk Cabbage - with spadix knob revealed - Hamilton - Ontario

Skunk Cabbage Blooming in Cootes Paradise – A Sure Sign of Spring

Frame To Frame – Bob & Jean

Early Spring Wildflowers at Cootes Paradise – Burlington is a post from: Frame To Frame

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