Yes, there are millions of Virginia bluebells at Carley State Park.

Virginia bluebells pointed down

What they don’t mention is that there are at least as many false rue anemones:

dozens of false rue anemone


Virginia bluebells and false rue anemone near a fallen tree

This one tree contained an entire spring wildflower ecosystem:

base of a tree surrounded by many types of wildflowers

bluebells, of course, and also bellworts:

one flowering bluebell stem and three bellworts

little-leaf buttercups:

two small yellow flowers

wild ginger:

wild ginger leaves but no flowers

early meadow rue:

small stem of early meadow rue


one open purple violet and one bud

Dutchman’s breeches:

two strings of dutchman's breeches

more false rue anemones:

small patch of false rue anemone

and soon, trilliums:

trillium with a bud hanging down


More photos from Carley State Park

Early spring is when all of my favorite wildflowers bloom. My garden has a few – hepatica, spring beauty, trillium – but the best place to see nearly every Minnesota ephemeral is the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. I visited on a sunny afternoon three weeks ago.

White trout lily:

side view of two white trout lilies

and yellow trout lily:

looking up at one yellow trout lily

Wild ginger’s shy flower:

one wild ginger plant with a dark red flower

Hepatica rising out of the carpet of oak leaves:

two purple hepatica

False rue anemone:

a large patch of false rue anemone in the sunshine

Bloodroot is my absolute favorite, possibly because they’re so delicate and so short-lived. This time I decided to take video of flowers blowing in the wind, with birds singing and bees buzzing in and out:

There was even a turkey roaming around, not at all concerned that I was watching:

a turkey that blends in well with the brown background

Earlier this week, I returned to see what’s happening now. There are many more varieties, and the brown groundcover is quickly being replaced by new, green growth.

The bloodroot I filmed is long gone, the leaves growing large but being overtaken by invasive periwinkle:

bloodroot leaves in a large patch of periwinkle

Many varieties of violets:

four different kinds of violets, names unknown

Two-leaved toothwort:

the top of one two-leaved toothwort plant

I was wondering whether there are any jack-in-the-pulpits and literally before I finished that thought, I found one hiding among the leaves:

jack-in-the-pulpit surrounded by wild geranium leaves

Marsh marigolds:

several marsh marigold blooms along a stream

Several kinds of trilliums:

large trillium, prairie trillium, yellow trillium, a different yellow variety, snow trillium

And coming soon: lots of wild geraniums.

about a hundred wild geranium leaves

I spent three days and two nights camping with friends at Tettegouche State Park north of Duluth a week and a half ago.

bunchberry, northern bluebells, wild strawberry
Bunchberry, northern bluebells, wild strawberry

We went on a long hike each day – one through the woods to High Falls, and one along Lake Superior to Shovel Point.

self-heal, evening primrose, fireweed
Self-heal, evening primrose, fireweed

As is my habit, every hike turns into a wildflower hunt.

wild avens, wild rose, cinquefoil
Wild avens, wild rose, cinquefoil

It felt like every other minute I was stopping to photograph yet another specimen.

tall agrimony, American vetch, pussytoes
Tall agrimony, American vetch, pussytoes

Most were at ground level, but some were at eye level.

cow parsnip
Cow parsnip − some of these were taller than me!


black snakeroot and meadow rue
Black snakeroot, meadow rue


columbine, yarrow, bush honeysuckle
Wild columbine, yarrow, bush honeysuckle

The bush honeysuckle above is not a wildflower, but there were so many blooming that I had to include them. There were many other flowering shrubs, berries, and ferns that I’m not including.

I’m not sure whether this pretty buttercup is a native wildflower.

Many of the wildflowers we saw are natives, but of course there were also many non-natives…

Alsike clover, red clover, white clover


campion, field mustard, chickweed-alfalfa-pennycress
Clockwise from top left: campion, field mustard, chickweed, alfalfa, field pennycress seed pods

…including several on the Minnesota Wildflowers Invasive – ERADICATE! list.

devil flowers: devil's paintbrush, Glaucous King-devil
These two invasives look so similar except for their color, and they have similar common names: devil’s paintbrush and Glaucous King-devil. (The yellow one may instead be meadow hawkweed; I can’t tell the difference. If so, I’d like to switch to the other common name for the orange one – orange hawkweed – so these two flowers still match.)


daisy and birds-foot trefoil
Pretty but invasive: daisy and birds-foot trefoil

Back to the natives! Fortunately for me, the park’s visitors center compiled a list of the flowers that were blooming, so I had a head start on identifying those I didn’t already know:

one-flowered pyrola
One-flowered pyrola points nearly straight down, so I had to nearly lie on the ground to see its face.


shinleaf, pink corydalis, twinflower
Shinleaf, pink corydalis, twinflower

A new Instagram friend saw spotted coralroot a week earlier, an orchid I was disappointed to miss! I settled for a few black-eyed susans that were starting to bloom.

black-eyed susan
Black-eyed susan (please ignore the invasives in the background)

Quite a fun weekend for discovering wildflowers.

Long-overdue posting of showy lady’s slippers from a late-June drive through the countryside looking for wildflowers.

a single showy lady's slipper

This is an enormous clump of at least 50 of these pretty orchids on the side of a quiet road in Mahnomen County in northwest Minnesota:

cluster of about 50 showy lady's slippers

Showy lady’s slipper is Minnesota’s state flower and is on my car’s license plate, a Critical Habitat specialty plate that supports the state Department of Natural Resources.

one showy lady's slipper photographed from above

I didn’t notice until looking at the pictures after returning home, but some of the photos make it look like the flowers have faces — yellow eyes over a wide-open mouth:

one showy lady's slipper in focus with others nearby

What a treat to see this beautiful flower in the wild.

a pair of showy lady's slippers