There’s no doubt we love native species at the Alliance. They’re usually easy to take care of, prove to be unique resources to humans and wildlife, and are always beautiful. With spring up and running, we want to make sure to notice and appreciate some of the beautiful blooming native flowers.

See if you can find these beauties in your neck of the watershed before their flowers are gone! Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) reddish-pink buds bloom, unimpeded by leaves. (Photo courtesy of Eric Kilby/Flickr)1. Eastern Redbud. Clusters of small pink flowers cover the leafless branches of the Eastern redbud, lending a spectacular sight.

The redbud’s flowers are not only beautiful, but eatable! Flowers and buds are safe for people and many animals to eat, offering a tart taste and loads of vitamin C.

Other parts of this small tree have been used by Native American people and early colonists to treat ailments such as whooping cough, fever, and congestion.

You can find this tree growing in nature in open woodlands, on sunny hillsides and in valleys. The purple passion flower (Passiflora incarnata), also known as ‘maypop’, has many flashy features, including its bright color and crimped fringe. (Photo courtesy of Robert D Bruce/Flickr)2. Purple Passion Vine. The passion vine’s flower, a purple, blue and pink colored and unique looking flower, blooms in early spring and throughout summer.

This vine is a larval host for at least six species of pollinators and its flowers provide, nectar as a food source for pollinators.

Native Americans used its roots and leaves to make poultices and teas treating inflammation, bruises, cuts and insomnia.

You can find this species throughout the watershed on woodland edges, near stream banks and even in some meadows. American wisteria’s (Wisteria frutescens) purple flowers are nectar rich, and attract many pollinators. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)3. American Wisteria.This beautiful vine bursts with color and fragrance when lavender clustered flowers bloom in late May to August.

Native to the watershed, American wisteria is distinct from Asian wisteria species, which are usually larger and grow more aggressively. This species also serves as a larval host for several pollinators.

Climbing American wisteria vines can be found in moist, wooded natural areas or in landscaped spaces, growing up on lattices, fences or columns. Flowers of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) bloom from purple-pink buds in May. (Photo courtesy of Carly Lesser/Flickr)4. Virginia Bluebells. You might spot a hummingbird or butterfly drinking the nectar of this delicate flower this spring. The slightly drooping, trumpet shaped paper-like blue flowers won’t support the weight pollinators, so hovering is a necessity.

Virginia bluebells can be found in shaded woods throughout most of eastern North America. Make sure you look for these plants soon because they are highly ephemeral, decomposing shortly after seeds are produced. The American dogwood (Cornus florida) is the state tree and flower of Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Nature Serve/Flickr)5. American Dogwood. As one of the most beloved native flowering plants in the area, over 3,000 American dogwood trees were sent to Japan in 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japan giving the United States 3,000 cherry trees.

The American Dogwood, also known as the flowering dogwood, has a beautiful crown of foliage ornamented with bright flowers in spring. Though what we recognize as the flower’s whitish petals are actually specialized leaves, protecting the small, clustered flowers at the center.

This tree can be found near streams, in woods and in many gardens of North America.

For more information about native plants of our region, check out these great resources:
Native Plant Center
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: plant data base
Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed