A Favorite Wildflower

April 24, 2017  |  Permalink

It is hard to pick a favorite spring wildflower, there are so many beautiful flowers in Tennessee’s spring woods. I like the intricate and colorful flowers but I also like the plain small white ones too. If you take the time to use a hand lens magnifier they turn out to be intricate and beautiful as well. So, I have many favorites, but a few stand out because of color, habitat, or a personal connection.

The Fire Pink is a favorite because I remember it being the first I found and became familiar with by using my new field guide in college. By the way, it is called ‘Pink’ because of the triangular ‘cut’ in the end of each petal, not the color.

The Trout Lily is a favorite because of its habitat. I remember first noticing them at the Sawmill Campsite in the Savage Gulf Natural Area. I later learned the leaves are eatable and have made a spring tradition of eating the first leaf I see in the spring.

The Spiderwort is another favorite because of its color contrast of purple and yellow. Its color is quite exquisite and can be used as a pollution indicator. The purple may instead be pink when exposed to pollution. The spider name may come from the leaves resembling spider legs. It is also called Widow’s Tears because the flowers turn into a liquid when done flowering.

The spring flowers are decorating many of our trails in the parks, I hope you can take time to look close and enjoy their beauty.

About the author

Randy Hedgepath

Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath is a native of west Tennessee, where his family’s farm was just 15 miles from the Tennessee River. After graduating from UT Martin and working seasonally for several years for the National Park Service and Tennessee State Parks, he has spent the last 33 years with state parks. Randy worked as a ranger/naturalist at South Cumberland State Park on the Cumberland Plateau and at Radnor Lake Natural Area in Nashville until 2007 when he was given the opportunity to be the statewide naturalist for the state park system.