By Jared Smith, Natural Areas Tech
I really do not know how much better of a sight there can be than after the last frost is in our distant memory and the woods become filled with the color of wildflowers. They seem to take turns as some jump off to an early start, while others wait patiently for their place basking in the sun’s rays. One of my personal favorites is the Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides), a stem filled flower that comes into bloom around late April thru mid-May. I recently took a hike (around Derby Day) on our Wild Hyacinth trail to check and see if the bloom process has started, and I was not disappointed.
The Western cousins of our Native Wild Hyacinth actually played an important role as a food staple for Native American and traveling settlers. Known also as quamash, the plant is normally harvested in the fall once most of the plant has withered. The bulbs were plucked off and either pit smoked or boiled, giving them the supposed flavor of a sweet potato with some extra sweetness. The option was also available to take dried bulbs and crush them into a flour allowing for longer preservation and use. This plant even came in handy during the exploration of Lewis and Clark through the Great West.
This bee and butterfly pollinated beauty does not spend too long in full bloom. Therefore, it would be best to get out into the parks to catch a sight of this purple wonder before it is gone. Luckily, you will not have to do much searching to find them since there is a trail that bares its name. So get out there and find the hills full of bloom.
Park at Ben Stout House in Turkey Run Park to access this wildflower-filled trail. Directions
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