Early Signs of Wildflowers

If a harbinger of spring would boost your spirits this winter, take a look in parks and other native landscapes for wildflower rosettes. Many wildflowers get a head start on their spring growth by overwintering as a cluster of leaves hugging the ground.  The side-by-side position of rosette leaves maximizes sun exposure.  The leaves’ low profile helps reduce wind damage, while allowing them to capture warmth radiating from the soil. Rosettes of cold-hardy native plants also likely contain proteins that act like antifreeze to reduce their risk of freezing.

Viewer Tip: Indian blanket forms rosettes in meadows and prairies from Pennsylvania to California. Rosettes of lanceleaf coreopsis, which produce yellow daisy like flowers, are also common nationally at such sites and along roadsides. In Texas and elsewhere in the South, also keep an eye out for rosettes of Texas bluebonnets, Engelmann’s daisy and winecups.  See Mr. Smarty Plants’ list of resources for identifying wildflowers by their rosettes.

This information is provided by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Learn more at www.wildflower.org.

Photo: Flaigg, Norman G.

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