Spring Flowers of the PA Highlands: 3 Native Ephemerals and 2 Flashy Intruders

April 8, 2020 — Right now, the PA Highlands region showcases its mid-spring ephemeral flowers – but not all are as innocuous as they appear.

The first spring perennial and ephemeral flowers have had their season and faded, as they do each year. They will return again next year in the late winter and early spring.  While the Pennsylvania Highlands region bids adieu to skunk cabbage and winter aconite blooms, the mid-spring ephemerals take their place in the spotlight. 

When exploring the outdoors close to home, you may find that several of these mid-spring flowers catch your eye.  Here is a quick guide to a few common ephemeral flowers in bloom now in the PA Highlands.  While all beautiful, 3 of these are native to the region and 2 are flashy, invasive species that pose a threat to native ecosystems.



Mid-Spring Ephemeral Flowers

Yellow Trout Lily

Erythronium americanum

Yellow Trout Lily at Manderfield Preserve in West Rockhill Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


Dutchman’s Breeches

Dicentra cucullaria

Dutchman’s Breeches in Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


American Field Pansy

Viola bicolor

American Field Pansy in Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.



Mid-Spring Ephemeral Flowers

When invasive species become established in an area, they are difficult to remove and extirpate.  Often the invaders have specific qualities related to growth rate, emergence time, and ability to spread rapidly that allow them to out-compete native plant species.


Fig Buttercup / Lesser Celandine

Ficaria verna

Fig Buttercup takes over in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


Grape Hyacinth
Muscari armeniacum

Grape Hyacinth in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


The next time you take a walk during spring in the PA Highlands, look around for a flash of color.  Can you recognize any of these mid-spring ephemeral flowers?  They will only be visible for a time, and then…

They’re gone. 

To be seen again next year.


For a list of even more flowers blooming in the area in April, visit the Appalachian Mountain Club Delaware Valley Chapter’s website at http://amcdv.org/april.html.


Stands of invasive plants and flowers can cover areas making it difficult for native spring ephemeral flowers to thrive or even survive.  To learn more about invasive plants in Pennsylvania and what you can do, visit PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website on the topic at https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Conservation/WildPlants/InvasivePlants/Pages/default.aspx.


The Pennsylvania Highlands is a 1.4 million acre region that encompasses parts of 13 counties and boasts unique ecological and cultural resources that contribute to the economic and aesthetic value of the area, as well as provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. To learn more, visit pahighlands.org.


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