Intro to Indiana Forest Preserves:
Bloomington Ind., home of the Hoosiers, sits atop the Indiana Highland Rim Natural Region. This geography is due to the Wisconsin Glacial Maximum, our most recent glacial resident, did not crush the land of Southern Indiana.
This allowed Bloomington to grow into a highly diverse, rugged landscape not shaped by glaciers from above, but the exposed bedrock below.
The Indiana Highland Rim Natural Region not only puts Bloomington on the map in Indiana, but also the whole state itself when considering North American Landforms.
So now that we know how special our area is on a large scale, I’m going to reveal some of the spring treasures that lie within it.
Grows in moist lowland woods.
Located: Yellowood State Forest
A member of the poppy family, this plant has a picturesque white flower, blooming only once a year, just for a day.
This special plant gets its name from the deep red sap emitted from its roots (and the rest of the plant). Used historically and currently for dying fabric, bloodroot can be found in your toothpaste as an anti-plaque ingredient. Bloodroot even has its own book written in its name.
Photo: Matt Jones (Flickr)
Grows in moist woods/lawns.
From sleeping beauty to spring beauty, Claytonia awakens after a deep winter slumber to display white-pink flowers. A delicate plant turned delicacy spring beauty was consumed by Native Americans and settlers. Their tiny tuberous roots were eaten raw or cooked as a potato substitute while the leaves were used to garnish salads.
Deer, rodents and turkey also have an affinity for utilizing spring beauty as a source of nutrition, so if you have these beauties in your yard keep an eye out for browsers.
Photo: Jane Shotaku (Flickr)
Found in: Moist woods at the bottom of slopes.
Like tiny pants hung to dry by Borrowers, these “breeches-shaped” flowers can be found dangling from a slender stem in the forests of southern Indiana. Equipped with fern-like leaves, the breeches are easy to spot on a casual walk through our local forests. Interestingly, these pants-shaped plants were included in an ointment used by Native Americans to increase the limberness in the legs of athletes. Be aware, however, that these adorable pants plants are poisonous and can cause skin rashes.
So there you have it. A brief guide to some of Southern Indiana’s most common spring ephemerals. Now go take a hike and check out the fairy-tale beauty of the spring blooms.
Huffman, M. A. H. and H. The Natural Heritage of Indiana. 167– 171, (Quarry Books, 1997).
Homoya, M. A. The Natural Heritage of Indiana. 159–160 (Quarry Books, 1997).