Find these rare and beautiful wildflowers at WV state parks and forests
Celebrate National Wildflower Week with a walk in the woods.
National Wildflower Week is celebrated during the first full week of May and commemorates the colorful blooms that brighten our forests and meadows. But not only are they beautiful, they’re useful, too. Wildflowers create habitat for butterflies and other widlife, help conserve water and reduce erosion. When you visit West Virginia State Parks and Forests, keep an eye out for some of these spring wildflowers:
Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum)
People associate orchids with tropical rain forests, but did you know several species grow wild in West Virginia? The yellow lady’s slipper is easily identifiable by its pouchlike yellow bloom that hangs down from its stalk like a slipper. It grows best in dry, acidic soil in mixed forest. Keep an eye out for lady’s slippers in other colors. Parks and forests have been known to have pink varieties too!
Early Saxifrage (Saxifraga virgiensis)
You’ll find these tiny white flowers growing all over dry hillsides and rocky cliffs. In fact, saxifrage is derived from the Latin words saxum, “a rock,” and frangere, “to break” because of the way the flowers grow out of cracks in rocks.
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea)
An interesting fact about this flower is that its scarlet-tipped, brush-like petals are not petals at all, but rather, bracts—a type of modified leaf. You’ll find this brightly colored wildflower growing in meadows and moist sandy soil in the mountains.
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
Also known as cowslip, this cheerful yellow flower is a member of the buttercup family. It’s common in high elevations in marshes and bogs and in low ground along streams. You’ll likely to find lots of these growing in the wetlands of Canaan Valley Resort State Park.
Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)
Another member of the buttercup family, the larkspur thrives in the rich forestland west of the Appalachians. These blue-violet beauties grow in a cluster from a narrow stalk, with leaves resembling tiny palm fronds.
Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
These cheerful little flowers resemble puffy white pants tipped in yellow and hanging upside down from a clothesline (stem). You’ll find them growing in rich woods all over the state, in areas like Jesse’s Cove at Watoga State Park.
Guyandotte Beauty (Synandra hispidula)
A member of the mint family, this endangered wildflower is noted for its delicate white petals streaked with pink. Look for it along the 1-mile Guyandotte Beauty Trail at Chief Logan State Park.
Wildflower walks and other interpretive hikes
Interested in learning more about wildflowers? Download your own spring wildflower guide from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture or sign up for the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage this weekend at Blackwater Falls State Park.
West Virginia state parks and forests host interpretive hikes throughout the year during which you can learn about wildflowers, birds, animal tracks and more. Start planning your Almost Heaven getaway today!
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