Crossing the Threshold into Spring

Just a few days after yet another snowfall, I ventured into the woods. From a distance, the forest still looked very much like a late-winter forest.

But, wait, there was algae growing in the stream bed

stream with algae

stream with algae

and insects walking on water

insect on water surface

insect on water surface

Right beside the roadway, growing through the gravel…the first wildflower waved at me – Coltsfoot!

coltsfoot

coltsfoot

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is often confused with dandelion because it has a similar burst of yellow ray petals. But when you examine the reddish, scaly stalk, you’ll see immediately that it’s different from dandelion. Also, Coltsfoot does not develop leaves until after the flowering period. What a warm, inviting sunburst of a flower! I like to collect coltsfoot leaves later in the season and dry them to keep for cough medicine. The flowers can be used for the same purpose but I don’t want to pick them, they are still too sparse and precious.

As I wander around, eyes focused on the leaf-covered forest floor, I find more jewels:

I love the creamy white petals of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis) with the thinnest of veins running down to her sunny center. In some areas, bloodroot carpets large patches of forest floor in April, like white stars scattered everywhere. Bloodroot has an orange-colored juice in its stem and a blood red liquid in its roots. It has a colorful history of medicinal uses but is best left alone since it also has toxic qualities.

And now these little beauties barely stretch their little heads above last year’s dried leaves. They often cluster together as if to find protection in larger numbers, appearing much too dainty and fragile for this rough transition time.

Hepatica

Hepatica

They are Hepatica (Hepatica americana) and range in color from almost white to lavender to periwinkle. Their leaves are a bit splotchy and rounded:

Round-leaved hepatica

Round-leaved hepatica

Once used as a liver tonic, it is no longer recommended as a medicine due to irritating components.

And there were more beautiful spring ephemeral lovelies:

large patch of trout-lilies

large patch of trout-lilies

Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum) has petals that curve back sharply and one or two mottled leaves shaped like a lance. I was drawn to this fancy pair, one with yellow stamen, the other with red stamen.

Trout-lilies with yellow and red stamen

Trout-lilies with yellow and red stamen

Trout-lily has also been used extensively as medicine, especially by Native Americans (e.g. root tea for fevers, leaf poultice for ulcers, leaves for contraception); however, I personally do not have any medicinal experience with trout-lily. I much prefer to admire them in their moist woodland habitat for that short period of time in early spring.

And one last discovery: the tiny flowers of spicebush (Lindera benzoin), a shrub that likes to grow along stream banks. Its spice-scented berries can be used as an all-spice substitute. Even the flowers smell spicy! I had to hold my lens cover behind them because my camera could not focus on them otherwise.

tiny spicebush blossoms

tiny spicebush blossoms

These tiny woodland treasures, to me, represent the threshold from winter into spring. They bring back color, variety, enjoyment, promise and freedom, a brand-new and long-awaited Spring season.

This post was created in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold.

About Beauty Along the Road

My name is Annette. I am passionate about nature, health, simplicity, self-reliance, truth, and life-long learning. Originally from Germany, I now live in Virginia, USA. I am a therapist, health coach, writer, photographer, and organic gardener.
This entry was posted in Appalachia, Flora, Healing Ourselves and the Planet, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Crossing the Threshold into Spring

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | nowathome

  2. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Threshold – Standing guard |

  3. Great images for the awakening of Springtime, Annette. So many gorgeous flowers, but the Hepatica is my favourite. Such a lovely colour.

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  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge / B4 Retouch: Threshold (Oracle) | What's (in) the picture?

  5. Aggie says:

    Lovely and informative. I’d like to find time to do this for the flowers we are seeing in northeast Texas. Interestingly, there are no matches for the ones you have here.

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  6. Beautiful!! And congrats on your 100th post anniversary!! I’m glad you found some spring in those mountains although you only need to venture a little further south for more tulips, daffodils, hyacinths etc.🙂

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  7. Tish Farrell says:

    What a gorgeous, uplifting post, Annette, and so nice to see the common coltsfoot that we have here too. And yes, so good for coughs and irritated throats.

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    • Yes, it is very uplifting to find these little flowers after the seemingly endless winter we just survived. A naturalist friend just told me this morning that coltsfoot is considered an invasive in our area because its leaves shade out other plants later in the season. I still love it….

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  8. Spring. Oh how I miss gathering dandelions for a fresh spring salad and looking for morel mushrooms. I’m fascinated by the medicinal uses of many of the spring flowers. Beautiful photos.

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    • I am salivating as you mention morels….6 more weeks of waiting🙂
      It’s amazing how many of our native flowers have been used for medicinal purposes; sadly, that knowledge is slowly sinking into the realm of saga and myth.

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  9. What a beautiful and informative interpretation of this week’s theme, Threshold.

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  10. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: THRESHOLD | The Adventures of Iñigo Boy

  11. sued51 says:

    I love the Hepatica and the trout-lily…beautiful flowers and informative post.

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  12. Spring is finally here after a long and dark winter.

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  13. peggy1957 says:

    These are awesome….I live on 400 acres, mostly wooded and I could spend all day down in “the bottoms” that’s a mile ( about 70 acres) that runs along the Big River in Missouri. To me there is beauty in every season, you just have to look. Would to see more of your nature finds. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Hi Peggy – I am sure you discover all kinds of neat things down there, in the bottoms. Wild lands have an energy all their own that we can’t find anywhere else. Glad you enjoyed the post. I will continue posting thru the season as spring ephemerals are my particular interest.

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  14. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | Nola Roots, Texas Heart

  15. Oh what a beautiful spring awakening post, love all your flower shots. Makes me a bit home sick for Germany. Thank you for sharing.

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  16. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | Through the Eye of Bastet

  17. quarksire says:

    very kewl🙂

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  18. dadirri7 says:

    beauty, these are gems, tiny things I never see here, yet hear about for their herbal properties … each one so lovely … I recognised that Coltsfoot was not dandelion, but of course would not have known what it was without your explanation … thank you for a walk in your woods with a keen eye!

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  19. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold – 2 | Through the Eye of Bastet

  20. Dina says:

    Lovely and very informative post, Annette. The hepatica looks gorgeous!

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  21. What lovely treasures to find so soon after snow melt. It is amazing how quickly life returns. The Hepatica is absolutely stunning. I have never seen that around here.

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  22. yes, same flower. Your welloe photos are great, so hard to photograph the color.

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