Jennifer Ceska, the State Botanical Gardens Conservation Coordinator was our guest speaker for our Master Gardeners Class.  Her enthusiasm, passion, and zeal for native wildflowers were contagious!!

Ms. Ceska lectured in the classroom and then we walked through the wildflower area at the Botanical Gardens.  It’s great having all our classes here at the Gardens – always an inspiration walking to and from class each week.

A term that’s important when discussing these early spring wildflowers is “ephemeral”  meaning temporal, short lived.  These plants only bloom when the trees above don’t have leaves yet.  That way the sun can get to these tender plants.  They thrive in the rich soil of the woodland floor with all those composting leaves!

Because Georgia’s had such a cold winter,  the emergence of plants is a little behind this spring.

The one plant that gave us a good show was the Chattahoochee Trillium.

There are 24 species of Trilliums in the state of GA.

Trilliums are slow to reach the flowering age – 7 years from seed.

We’ve talked in another post about “etiolation”  the result of too little light for plants.  Here’s an example of this phenomenon in nature.  Look how long the white stem is before the flower appeared!  The guess was that this plant was buried under the leaves and kept growing till it could surface.  Ms. Ceska said it would upright itself and the stem would turn the right color.

The Wood Poppy

We could barely see the beginnings of what would become the flower.

Squaw Weed

It’s interesting to note that the floral buds look purple at this point in their growth but the full flower is yellow.

Virginia Bluebell – This plant is part of the Borage family.

Check out the pictures of the Bluebells – the flowers are beautiful!

Cut-Leaf Toothwort – part of the Mustard family

The Iroquois used a poultice of the root to treat headaches.  They also used it for divination, as a hunting medicine, and as a love medicine.

The tubers of toothworts have a pungent, peppery taste and can be ground and mixed with vinegar to produce a condiment similar to horseradish.

Little Brown Jug or Heartleaf – this is what I found in our woods yesterday.

The leaves are beautiful and heart shaped.

These are the flowers!!  They look like little jugs or little piglets  🙂   These flowers are pollinated by beetles and gnats that live under the leaf litter.

Trout Lily – these had to be my favorite  from all that we saw…

The foliage is beautiful and the flowers so delicate.

The Native Americans drank a root tea to reduce fever, and applied a leaf poultice to skin ulcers.