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Written by: Summer Graham

 

Spring has sprung, and it is once again time to turn our thoughts to flowers, gardens, and warmer days. Spring may not arrive locally just yet depending on where you are in Canada, but it is likely a highly anticipated event for most “plant people”, with keen eyes watching for the first flowers to bloom.

 

These early-blooming species are often called “heralds of spring”, with their appearance on the landscape often accepted as a sure sign that warmer temperatures are just around the corner. In Nunavut, it is the territorial flower of Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia; Inuit name: 'aupaluktunnguat.’) that often blooms first.

 

Some species bloom early to take advantage of the higher levels of sunlight available while trees are still budding and have not formed full canopies yet. These species are often quick to fade after blooming. Others coordinate their flowers to match up with the activity of key pollinators and play an important role in supporting these wildlife species as they become active after the long winter.

 

Here are 10 native plants from across Canada that bloom early in the season:

 

1. Bloodroot

(Sanguinaria canadensis)

Distribution in Canada:
MB, ON, QC, NB, NS
Bloom-time: March–May

 

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Bloodroot

2. Western Skunk Cabbage

(Lysichiton americanus)

Distribution in Canada:
BC
Bloom-time: March–June

 

Photo by Scott Darbey (used with modification, CC BY 2.0)

 

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Western Skunk Cabbage

3. Flowering Currant

(Ribes sanguineum var. sanguineum)

Distribution in Canada:
BC
Bloom-time: April–May

 

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Flowering Currant

4. Yellow Trout Lily

(Erythronium americanum var. americanum)

Distribution in Canada:
ON, QC, NB, NS
Bloom-time: April–May

 

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Yellow Trout Lily

5. Blue Cohosh

(Caulophyllum thalictoides)

Distribution in Canada:
MB, ON, QC, NB, NS
Bloom-time: April–June

 

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Blue Cohosh

6. Jack-in-the-Pulpit

(Arisaema triphyllum)

Distribution in Canada:
MB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PE
Bloom-time: April–June

 

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

7. Round-lobed Hepatica

(Anemone americana)

Distribution in Canada:
MB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PE
Bloom-time: May–June

 

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Round-lobed Hepatica

8. Blue-eyed Grass

(Sisyrinchium montanum)

Distribution in Canada:
BC, AB, SK, M, ON, QC, NB, NS, PE, NF, YT, NT
Bloom-time: May–July

 

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Marsh Marigold

9. Bearberry or Kinnikinick

(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Distribution in Canada:
BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PE, NF, YT, NT, NU
Bloom-time: May–July

 

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Bearberry or Kinnikinick

10. Purple Mountain Saxifrage

(Saxifraga oppositifolia)

Distribution in Canada:
BC, AB, MB, ON, QC, NS, NF, YT, NT, NU
Bloom-time: May–August

 

View Plant

 

Purple Mountain Saxifrage

 

If you're able to get outside, see if you can spot any of these early bloomers appearing in natural areas near you! Or if quarantine is keeping you indoors, use the CanPlant Database or check out the links below to virtually explore spring plants.

 

Additional Resources:

 

• Ontario Wildflowers – Species Blooming in Spring

 

• Owlcation – Spring Wildflowers in Southwestern British Columbia

 

• Destination Nunavut – Flora

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