Spring wildflowers in state and county nature preserves are arriving at least three weeks early this year, so people who enjoy seeing them might want to adjust their springtime schedules.
"We're starting to see bloodroot, spring beauties, twin leaf and marsh marigolds," said Ryan Schroeder, who manages Howard Collier State Nature Preserve and seven others in northwest Ohio for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.
"Trilliums come later, but everything seems to be a little earlier this year, so we might see trilliums in April," he said.
Schroeder said wildflowers offer a large viewing window statewide.
"If you're looking for wildflowers, certainly in the southern part of the state they bloom earlier, then the bloom works its way north," he said.
In addition to the beauty of flowers, he said now is an excellent time to hear the woods' spring sounds.
"All the frogs are calling at this time of year. That's something to keep an ear out for," he said. "Enjoy the warm weather and the birds chirping.
"In our nature preserves, we offer nice trails and really nice places with a lot of diversity of wildflowers that people can see. I think people enjoy the passive recreation that we offer."
However, he reminded people to abide by preserve rules.
"People are not allowed to pick the wildflowers and people should stay on the trail at all times," he said.
Picking flowers kills them. Anyone who wants to grow wildflowers should buy them from a reputable nursery which has raised them to be transplanted.
Spring wildflowers grow in wooded areas from late March through early June. They must grow, flower and set seed quickly because once trees leaf out, the sunlight that powers all this activity will be obscured by the dense canopy, leaving wildflowers in deep shade.
Every woodlot has its share of flowers, but numbers and diversity depend on the past history of the woods (has it been grazed or heavily lumbered recently?), the weather and the soil.
In addition to Collier preserve, Schroeder recommended Lawrence Woods near Kenton in Hardin County and Goll Woods near Archbold in Fulton County for wildflower viewing.
He said a new preserve, Daughmer Preserve in Crawford County, is to open later this year.
One of the best locations is in Seneca County at Howard Collier State Nature Preserve.
The 115-acre preserve is at 1655 W. TR 38, about three miles northeast of McCutchenville, along the Sandusky River.
Among the flowers along the preserve's 1 1/2 miles of trails are sharp-lobed hepatica, Dutchman's breeches, squirrel-corn, three trillium species, twinleaf, white and yellow trout-lily and marsh marigold.
In most years, marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage can be seen in large numbers in early May, but this year might be earlier.
More than 1,000 acres awaits hikers at Lawrence Woods in Hardin County, about four miles south of Kenton. The area offers a variety of spring wildflowers.
Goll Woods in Fulton County has 321 acres in the former Great Black Swamp and is the least disturbed woodland known to remain in extreme northwest Ohio. The area is 1 1/2 miles north of Archbold.
The area has a variety of wildflowers including spotted coral-root and three-birds-orchid.
Some other top spots for wildflower viewing also are in northwest Ohio.
Sears Woods is a 99-acre preserve adjacent to the Sandusky River in Crawford County. It's a mile southwest of Bucyrus on SR 4, then two miles west on Mount Zion Road.
In most years, the best flower display in May.
The preserve is leased to Crawford County Park District, (419) 683-9000.
Another great site for seeing wildflowers is Fowler Woods, a handicapped-accessible preserve with 187 acres in Richland County. The preserve is 13 miles north of Mansfield.
Marsh marigolds are on display in April (most years) and May provides views of trilliums, violets, Dutchman's breeches, jack-in-the-pulpit, spring beauty and phlox.
The weather forecast for early this week is predicting more springlike temperatures than last week and some sunny skies, so it would be an excellent time for a wildflower walk at Collier Preserve or one of the Seneca County Parks.