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February Phenology: Ten flowers to search for this month

Though many of the earliest familiar blooming plants are garden flowers that are not native to Indiana, there are a few stalwart natives that are often found flowering even in February. These flowers may be found inhabiting our forests or wetlands, planted in gardens or even invading our lawns.


Please note we include non-native plants alongside Indiana natives because we are trying to paint an accurate picture of what you will see if you pay attention to the seasonal changes in our state. Like it or not, non-native introduced plants have become a part of our communities. To ignore them gives an incomplete picture of our environment and we fail to fully understand the complexities of our ecosystems as a result.


1. Eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus feotidus) * Native *

This native plant is known to generate heat. It can be found in moist, swampy areas. It may already have emerged in your area. The flowers typically begin opening by the end of February.


2. Virginia spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) * Native *

This pretty pink native spring ephemeral begins flowering by the end of February and continues into March. This beauty is common throughout the central Indiana woods I frequent and can be found throughout the state.



3.

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

This member of the buttercup family is an introduced plant with sunny yellow flowers that begin opening in mid to late February.



4.

Harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa) * Native *

This native sign of spring begins flowering throughout the state in rich woods in mid-late February. It is easily overlooked because it is only a few inches tall and hides well among the leaf litter.


5. Crocus (Crocus spp.)

Many different species of non-native crocus are commonly found in Indiana gardens and landscape plantings. They are among the earliest flowers you'll find in Indiana, flowering mid-late February.


6. Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Another common non-native, spring-flowering bulb. Its white flowers begin opening early to mid February. In 2023, flowers were reported in Marion County as early as Feb 9th.


7. Speedwells (Veronica persica, Veronica polita)

A common non-native pest of disturbed areas such as lawns, fields, and roadsides, speedwells have small pretty blue flowers at a time of year when there aren't many other things blooming.


8. American hazelnut (Corylus Americana) * Native *

This plant has separate male and female flowers. The male catkins expand and flowers begin to open by the end of February. Much less noticeable female flowers also begin opening around the same time.


9. Sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutilobaI) * Native *

The green hepatica leaves can be found throughout the state in late winter. Those located in the Southern edges of our state may begin flowering in late February.


10. Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) * Native *

Though more often flowering in early March, this wind-pollinated tree, with separate male and female flowers, occasionally starts blooming in Late February. Silver maples flower before they leaf out.




* Plants on this list were selected from among the top iNaturalist observations of open flowers made in Indiana during Februaries past.



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