One of my favorite things about hiking in New Hampshire this time of year is the amazing variety of wildflowers scattered along the trails. When it’s time to put your head down and trudge on, the small bursts of color are an especially welcome treat. Here are ten easy-to-spot wildflowers that you’re sure to see every spring.
1. Painted Trillium
These are abundant in May and June and easy to spot with their bright white, pink-splashed petals. And with multiple eye-catching trios—three leaves, three sepals, and three petals—it’s easy to remember their name.
When these are in full bloom, they cover large patches of ground with their bright green leaves and beautifully symmetrical pointed “petals.” These “petals” are actually not petals at all, but bracts (modified leaves), which draw attention to the bunch of tiny little flowers in the center. The tiny flowers turn into a bunch of bright orangey-red berries later in the year, giving the plant its name.
With their shiny, dark leaves and fused pairs of tubular white flowers, Partridgeberries are one of the most attractive groundcovers in the woods. They maintain their appeal throughout the year, as the flowers are replaced with bright red, double-lobed berries.
4. White Campion
Keep your eyes peeled for these guys if you’re out camping or enjoying a night-hike; they’re one of the few night bloomers I’ve seen around here. They’re usually along the edges of fields and roads (or wide trails) and are easy to identify with their long stems and inflated calyces (the balloon-like whorl of sepals below the petals).
5. Sheep Laurel
While Mountain Laurels are widely celebrated, this smaller Sheep Laurel doesn’t seem to get much attention at all. Its flowers are smaller and it doesn’t fill the woods with the same brightness that the abundant white Mountain Laurels do, but it is a beautiful flower nonetheless. Show some love!
6. Common Foxglove
You’re more likely to see these in wildflower gardens, but they can be found in the woods too. Tall stalks with dozens of tubular flowers, vibrant magenta with an interior speckled with darker spots outlined in white… you can’t miss it!
7. Tall Corydalis
The first time I saw one of these, I was hiking in Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham. I was instantly mesmerized by the pale blueish-green, intricate leaves and delicate little two-colored blossoms. I had only ever seen a handful of Tall Corydalis until last week, when a casual hike around Beaver Brook in Milford led me to an entire field of them. Their thin stalks and dainty flowers are too small to capture in a wide-angle photo, so you’ll have to go see them yourselves.
8. Wild Columbine
This is one of those wildflowers that will stop you in your tracks. Tall stalks with showy red and yellow nodding flowers, backward-pointing tubes, bright yellow bunches of stamens hanging below, and intricate compound leaves make it a favorite for many. It also contains nectar that attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths, so you might get more than just a flower to watch if you find one.
9. Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil (Sulfur Cinquefoil)
In fields full of wildflowers, these always catch my eye. With so many bright yellow flowers around, the pale buttery tone of the Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil sets it apart. Its heart-shaped petals and full clusters of flowers are simple but stunning. Underrated, if you ask me!
10. Common St. John’s Wort
I know I just praised the Cinquefoil for its pale yellow tone, but now I’m changing my tune; the vibrant yellow flowers of St. John’s Wort are outstanding! Widely known as an herbal remedy for moderate depression, they’re frequently picked by foragers. But like many wildflowers (which I dare not call weeds!) they’re strong growers and can still be found all over.
Limiting this list to ten, I’ve had to leave out lots of other floral treasures. If I skipped one of your favorites, feel free to show it in the comments!