Last year we had an early spring and I found the first prairie crocus blooming on April 1st.
Most years the crocus blooms near the end of April. If you want to become a crocus hunter, don’t wait for all the snow to melt. If the daytime temperature is above zero for three weeks, start climbing a southern exposed hillside. Look for the fuzzy heads of crocus poking up in the barren landscape.
Along with the first crocus there are other flowers blooming, some inconspicuous and most of them tiny. Look for them on those sun-warmed ridges or hillsides.
Most of the flowers, mentioned here, also grow in other environments. For example, the prairie crocus also blooms in open forest later in the spring.
There are more early blooms then I show here, such as the kinnickinnick, which has deliciously tasting red-rimmed white little bells.
Some other berries flower early. Take time to look for the delightful yellow soapberry blossom. Last year, I recall coming upon a plant that I had never seen in flower, because it flowers so early. I forgot which one, so I will probably miss it again, because unlike the effusively blooming crocus, not all wildflowers show their beauty in such exuberant and abundant ways.
One that is almost equally showy is the townsendia; I have never seen it flowering in April, but it might bloom that early. I have only found it on two locations on the bluffs of the Takhini River.
Among those early blooms there also is the so-called pseudo flower Puccinia monoica, which is a fungus mimicking a flower that grows on certain plants of the mustard family.
And then there is the Douglasia, which is a pink cushion flower. However, this flower doesn’t grow on hillsides; it only grows just above treeline on southern exposed mountain slopes. Extremely rewarding for an early spring hike, they make it a surreal experience.