The spring-blooming violets capture the romantic imagination of poets and songwriters. Growing in well-drained yet fairly moist areas in the hills of the Ozarks, there are dozens of different species and variations. You will see violets that are blue, purple, lavender, white, and yellow. Some are bicolored. Some are striped. Many have little fuzzy beards in the throat of the flower.
I remember being told by the old time Ozark natives that having a buckeye in your pocket is good luck. Of course that meant I carried them around with me for a while. My mother probably got tired of finding buckeyes in the wash.
Okay, not a tree, but a small shrub. Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is about waist to head high, sometimes a bit sprawling. You’ll probably never even notice it except that it has these tiny brilliant lemon yellow clusters of flowers along the branches.
I moved to the Ozarks when I was nine years old and one of the first plants I learned about was the Sassafras tree. My mother dug up a bit of the root and let me smell it. I carried it around for a while and probably kept it in my treasures for years. It amazed me that such a simple looking tree could make such a great smell.
In the moist forest floor along river valleys in the Ozarks, at the same time you begin to see the Virginia Bluebells blooming, you can also find Yellow Fumewort. A member of the same family as Dutchman’s Breeches, Corydalis flavula is a small spring ephemeral plant…
In the spring among the Spring Beauties and the Rue Anemones I started to notice single boat-shaped leaves that were a dusty green with brown mottling. None were blooming so I had to wait to see what they were. Sure enough, the next week I started seeing this striking flower above the foliage. Trout Lily is a rather unattractive name for such a pretty flower, I think. But it must refer to the mottled leaves.
During our Spring Break trip to the St. Francois Mountains, we couldn’t resist going to see Taum Sauk Mountain and hiking the trail down to see Mina Sauk Falls. The trail goes down the face of an igneous glade in full sun. The footing was a bit treacherous and my knees were tired from hikes earlier in the week. I took a moment’s rest on a ledge about midway down and was quite pleased to see this plant.
The last few springs I’ve noticed these sweet little light yellow flowers but never could find out what they are. That’s because I thought they were an Allium, a member of the onion family. And I’m not the first person to make this mistake because the common name is False Garlic. In reality, Nothoscordum bivalve is a member of Lilaceae, the lily family.
What a pretty little yellow flower! It’s called Common Goldstar and the scientific name is Hypoxis hirsuta. “Hirsuta” means hairy and you can see little hairs on the buds of this specimen. According to Missouri Plants, the amount of hair on the plant can be quite variable. I didn’t see a lot of these, but reference suggest it is quite common and can even invade lawns. The flowers are about an inch across and the leaves are grass-like. I found this on a glade near Taum Sauk Mountain.