Wildflowers play a vital role in the vibrant ecosystems of sugar maple forests in Vermont, adding a burst of color and biodiversity to our lush green landscape. Various wildflowers bloom throughout the growing season, but a short window of time that corresponds to spring sugaring weather is the most interesting. The group of flowers that flourish in this period are known as spring ephemerals.
The entire growth cycle of spring ephemerals is confined to the brief period of time from when the snow melts and the ground thaws to when our sugar maple trees leaf out. During this 2-4 week period they have to sprout, grow leaves, flower, get pollinated, and seed (talk about a quickie!). After the trees leaf out and the forest floor becomes shaded, the plants go dormant, conserving energy underground until the following spring.
The types and number of varieties of spring wildflowers are good indicators of the soil potential of a sugarbush. Every old timer maple sugarer knew to seek out an area rich in wild leaks, blue cohosh, Dutchman’s breeches, and Canada violets for their sugarbush. These wildflowers require extremely rich soils in which to flourish, soils especially rich in calcium. This is the exact same soil type sugar maple trees do best in.
Here are some pictures of our favorite spring wildflowers. If you have any favorites of your own please send them over to us!