Venture: Wildflower Scavenger Hunt

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Starting at the end of the month, Ohio will start to look a lot like a giant Jackson Pollock painting - splattered with a million tiny dots of color. Wildflowers will start popping up in the woods, then in fields and marshes where trees can't hog all the sunshine.

Man, what a show it will be.

The Queen Anne's Lace in your backyard will look just fine, but more exquisite blooms often hide in quieter corners. Rick Gardner, a heritage botanist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, shared info about some of the state's rarest flowers and where to find them.

Remember not to dig or cut the flowers -- just take some great pictures back home with you.

Snow trillium

Protection status: None

Peak bloom: Late March

Where to find it: Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, Yellow Springs

In short: This Ohio bloomer gets its name for poking through fallen snow, meaning you've got to get out early to see it. Its white, three-pronged bloom is definitely worth braving the cold.

Lakeside daisy

Protection status: Threatened (federal), endangered (Ohio)

Peak bloom: Second week of May

Where to find it: Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve, Marblehead

In short: This preserve abutting Lake Erie holds the only natural population of the flower in the United States. Head there for Lakeside Daisy Day on May 8.

Wild lupine

Protection status: Potentially threatened (Ohio)

Peak bloom: Third week of May

Where to find it: Kitty Todd State Nature Preserve, Swanton

In short: Entire fields of this lavender flower bloom in the fields of Kitty Todd. Operated by The Nature Conservancy, the preserve is part of the Oak Openings, a unique string of ecosystems in northwest Ohio.

Pitcher plant

Protection status: Potentially threatened (Ohio)

Peak bloom: Late May

Where to find it: Triangle Lake Bog State Nature Preserve, Ravenna

In short: Permits are no longer required to hike through Triangle Lake Bog, so you're free to search for this carnivorous plant, which traps insects in a deep cavity filled with liquid.

Showy lady's slipper

Protection status: Threatened (Ohio)

Peak bloom: Mid June

Where to find it: Cedar Bog State Nature Preserve, Urbana

In short: The largest of Ohio's native orchids, this lovely specimen can take up to 15 years to produce its first flower. The bog boardwalk takes you into the marshy openings where they grow most often.