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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Bloodroot Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Bloodroot Nature Study

The very early spring is a time to anticipate the coming of the spring ephemerals, those wildflowers that mark the ending of winter and the start of spring. (Read more about Spring Ephemerals in my archives.) This challenge will prepare you for getting out in the woods and parks to spot early wildflowers like bloodroot.

Please use the information in the original Outdoor Hour Challenge to learn more about bloodroot, including links and videos. In addition, I found this awesome new link for you to read for you study: The Ephemeral Beauty of Bloodroot.

Bloodroot Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Bloodroot.

blood root 1

bloodroot 2

If you have access to the Winter Nature Study Continues ebook, there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues ebook

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

You can use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Members can download and use any of the wildflower challenges from the three ebooks available in the Member’s Library.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Set 1 Ebook

OHC Wildflower Set 2 @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower 3 Covermaker




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Wildflower Succession and Ephemerals

Wildflower Succession and Ephemerals

Wildflowers take their “turns” as they bloom through each season. This idea came to me years ago as I hiked the same trail many times a month and I noted that a certain meadow always had a flower blooming. The wildflowers don’t all bloom at the same time but they do bloom in the same order each year. This “cycle” or succession of flowers gives us a way to mark time.

spring wildflowersIn the early spring, the meadow comes alive with popcorn flower. Next to bloom are the shooting stars, the California poppies, and the purple Chinese houses. Making observations of the meadow has become an annual activity for me and it is enjoyable to know which flowers to anticipate as the season goes on.  The early spring wildflowers make their appearance before the surrounding trees leaf out and make shade. These plants quickly flower and go to seed, waiting for the next year to bloom again.

This cycle of flowering and then seed dropping fascinates me. I imagine all those seeds layered there in the soil just waiting for the conditions to be right in order for them to start their blooming cycle again the next year.

Wildflower spring ephemerals lupine

Spring ephemerals: Ephemeral means short lived or lasting for a brief time. In the case of wildflowers, these are usually the first flowers to develop stems, leaves, and flowers. They spring up quickly, bloom, seed, and then disappear once the temperatures heat up and the trees grow overhead.  They don’t really die but go dormant.

Here are some from my Sierra Foothill habitat in California:

¨ Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum

¨ California Golden Violet, Viola pedunculata

¨ Elegant Brodiaea, Brodiaea elegans

¨ Hooker’s Evening Primrose, Oenothera elata hookeri

¨ Mariposa or Butterfly Lily, Calochortus venustus

¨ Miner’s lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata

¨ Miniature lupine, Lupinus bicolor

¨ Owl’s Clover or Valley Tassels, Castilleja lineariloba

¨ Pretty Face, Triteleia ixioides

¨ Rose Globe or Fairy Lily, Calochortus amoenus

¨ Shooting Star, Dodecatheon jeffreyi

What are the spring ephemeral wildflowers in your area?

 Wildflower Succession and Spring Ephemerals


Wildflower Succession in Your Neighborhood

Choose a wildflower that grows in your neighborhood to watch each spring. Create a long term record of its initial bloom time each year. Use the data and compare the dates from year to year. Did weather– rainfall, snowfall, temperature– affect its blooming?

Wildflower Related Citizen Science Project Opportunity

Join Nature’s Notebook and make observations of a specific plant (or animal) in your area. By submitting data to this program, you will be helping scientists in their research. See the website for details and instructions. Click here for more information: Nature’s Notebook.


Newsletter Index download

This article first appeared in the April 2016 Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter.

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook 1 promo button

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook two promo button

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook 3 promo button

You may wish to download one of the wildflower ebooks from your Ultimate Naturalist Library and use it this spring and summer for your nature study time.


Here is a list of the wildflowers included in those ebooks:

Ebook #1: Field mustard, Wild radish, Shooting star, Lupine, Purple Chinese houses, Yarrow.

Eboook #2: Henbit, Cow parsnip, Columbine, Chicory, Cocklebur.

Ebook #3: Fireweed, Salsify, Forget-Me-Not, Paintbrush, Common silverweed.


Join Us Ultimate Naturalist January 2020If you still need a membership, click the graphic above to find out more about joining now.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Wildflower and Weeds Index @handbookofnaturestudy

You can also find many more wildflower nature study challenges on the Wildflower tab on the website.