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Flower power is growing strong in Worcester right now. It’s the time of year to make the best of a bud situation and see how many of these native Massachusetts flowers you can identify. Here’s a look at a few of the blooms with starring roles in Mother Nature’s springtime show.
This is the Massachusetts state flower. These tiny white or pink flowers bloom from March through July. You can find them in most forest clearings and sandy areas in Massachusetts. The best place to find mayflowers growing abundantly is along the green belt in Green Hill Park. Plan a family fun day trip here to visit the zoo and bask in the sun on a picnic blanket while the kids play on the playground.
Red Trillium is also known as Stinking Benjamin. It’s a pretty flower but it, um, stinks. It blooms from April through June and grows in moist, wooded areas. You can also spot it along streams and brooks. Take a hike up to The Cascades to find the flower blooming along the trails leading to Boynton Park. This 1.4 mile trail is popular among visitors and locals alike, don’t forget to bring your dog along and take in the waterfall.
This pretty, yellow-petaled flower is part of the poppy family. It gets its name from the brown, mottled spots on its leaves which resembles brown or brook trout. It blooms in late April through early May and grows in forests. Once a trout lily colony takes hold, it can cover an entire forest floor with stunning coverage. There are entire patches of trout lily along the Parson’s Cider Mill Trail, which provides lovely walking trails for any skill level. Since Worcester is considered an urban forest, it’s not unusual to see these blooms along many of our tree-lined streets.
Check out the Elm Loop trail to see these blue, lavender or white flowers. Take a seat and you can also enjoy the bird wildlife here at this popular picnic area. Hepaticas are part of the buttercup family and among the earliest spring bloomers. They grow best in wooded or shaded areas of the forest, so you may have to venture off the trail a bit to get a good look.
Another early season bloomer, bloodroot blooms from mid-March to May. The flower looks similar to the Mayflower, but don’t confuse the two. It gets its name, not from the flower, but from its red sap. This plant likes woodlands, flooded plains or shaded gardens like you’ll find on a pleasant 1.1 mile walk at the Perkins Farm Conservation Area. People have used bloodroot for medicinal purposes for centuries to treat fevers, skin conditions and even as a folk remedy for cancer. Handle it with caution. The sap can irritate and even damage the skin, and it’s poisonous if ingested.
The pink and white blossoms of this flowering tree are a sure sign of spring and a common sight in many neighborhoods. In fact, it’s one of the most widely planted trees in North America. The tree produces bright red berries in late summer to fall, and scarlet-red foliage in the fall.
Pink Lady’s Slipper
This gorgeous flower belongs to the orchid family, and it’s more common than you might think. The name comes from its resemblance to (you guessed it) a lady’s slipper. Colors vary from a whitish-pink to magenta. You’ll see them in several gardens around the city, but if you want to see them en-mass, Jamaica Pond is less than an hour away. Look for the flowers growing under the pines and oak trees from May through July.
This, of course, is a small sampling of the flowers you’ll see in the Worcester area this spring. There are plenty of field guides available to help you identify the blooms when exploring the outdoors. And remember, do your ecosystem and your fellow nature fans a favor and don’t pick the flowers. Take a look or take a picture, but leave the blossoms behind for others to enjoy.