Phenology Journal: The Deepening Year: Late Spring

Late Spring typically occurs in late March to April across the South and in the Northwest, in May along the 40th Parallel, and in May or even June east of the Rocky Mountains along the Canadian Border.

When apple blossoms fall, then late spring moves up from the South. The first sweet rocket, fleabane, sweet Cicely, daisy, fire pink, common plantain, white clover, chamomile, black medic, star of Bethlehem, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William, meadow goat’s beard, May apple, and wood sorrel almost always open.The woods are filled with garlic mustard, green and white among the still bare trees. It’s the best time of all for blue forget-me-not, golden ragwort, water cress, wild geranium, miterwort, swamp buttercup, late toad trillium, late trillium grandiflorum, late winter cress, white spring cress and the wild purple phlox.


Mock orange and strawberries come into full bloom when the last crabapple petals are gone. A few early poppies and peonies unravel then. Early iris and lupines are budding. Astilbe and clematis have formed flower heads. Summer hostas are eight to ten inches tall. Ferns, day lilies, comfrey, summer phlox have reached almost two feet. In the parks, the paths are thick with violets.Deep into late spring, the canopy of leaves becomes thicker every day. In the valleys, the woods are flushed, pale but luminescent. Mountain maples, lilacs and wild cherries flower. Poison ivy develops to a third of its June size—pacing the Virginia creeper and wild grapes. All the sweet gum flower clusters fall to the street as chives blossom in the garden. Redbuds fade, their leaves replacing flowers almost overnight.

Mayflies come out along the water. Bullfrogs call. Minnows and chubs are flushed red for their mating season. Flea time begins for pets, a sign that insect activity is nearing the economic threshold on the farm. Spitbugs grow in the shelter of swamp parsnips, announcing that the first cut of hay will soon be underway. The first small groups of monarch butterflies that left Texas in February cross the Ohio River. Flies become pesky in the mild afternoons. Summer hosta are about full size. Ferns, nettles, day lilies, comfrey, and summer phlox have reached almost two feet. In the parks, the paths are still thick with violets. The thrush, catbird, and scarlet tanager arrive in dense thickets, just as wild cucumber sprouts along the rivers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *