Spring Flowers: 3 Natives 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.

At this time, the first spring perennial and ephemeral flowers have had their season and faded, as they do each year. Without interference, they will return again next year earlier in the spring.  No sooner than the Pennsylvania Highlands region bids adieu to skunk cabbage and winter aconite blooms, the mid-spring ephemerals take their place in the spotlight. Presently, it is time to see the spring ephemeral flowers.

When exploring the outdoors close to home, you may find that several of these 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.


Spring Ephemeral Flowers


Yellow Trout Lily

Erythronium americanum

This image shows a full Yellow Trout Lily flower, with 6 petals.This image shows a stand of Yellow Trout Lily flowers and features the mottled pattern of the leaves.

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


Dutchman’s Breeches

Dicentra cucullaria

This image shows the white and yellow flower of the Dutchman's Breeches.This image shows a single Dutchman's Breeches plant flowering.

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


American Field Pansy

Viola bicolorThis image shows a single white, purple, and yellow flower of the American Field Pansy.This image shows a stand of American Field Pansy flowers.

Photos: American Field Pansy in Milford Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania




Spring Ephemeral Flowers



Fig Buttercup / Less Celandine

Ficaria verna

This image shows the yellow flowers of the Fig Buttercup during spring.This image shows a stand of invasive Fig Buttercups flowering in spring.

Photos: Fig Buttercup takes over in Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Grape Hyacinth

Muscari armeniacum

This image shows the purple flower of the Grape Hyacinth.This image shows a stand of purple Grape Hyacinths in spring.

Photos: 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. With this intention, can you recognize any of these spring ephemeral flowers among the landscape? They will only be visible for a time.

And then, they’re gone.

Don’t fret. After all, they can be seen again next year.



There are even more flowers blooming in Pennsylvania Highlands in April. To learn more, visit the Appalachian Mountain Club Delaware Valley Chapter’s website at http://amcdv.org/april.html.

In general, stands of invasive plants and flowers can cover areas making it difficult for native spring ephemeral flowers to thrive or even survive.  If you want to know 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 features quality drinking water, productive farms and forests, as well as rural community character. Additionally, the network of trails and land in the region provides outstanding opportunities to spend time outdoors. To learn more, visit pahighlands.org.