National Wildflower Week ends this Sunday, May 10, 2020. The photos and posts being shared online with the hashtag #NationalWildflowerWeek have been a welcome window into the wild while sheltering at home (and we do hope you’re safe at home these days!).

Dutchman’s-breeches bloom April to May and are found from Georgia to Maine.

There are many types of wildflowers and many purposes that native wildflowers serve. The shelter they provide to insects (think links in the food chain) and the diversity they bring to an area’s ecosystem are both very important. Then there is the beauty factor.

It is a surreal feeling to be out on a hike, make a turn, and be greeted with a field bursting in color. Or to emerge from a pine grove or ravine and see flowers laid out like a carpet before you. Leonard M. Adkins, author of Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, credits wildflowers as an inspiration for him.

“As the miles drew me northward, I could not ignore the attractive pink petals of spring beauty flowers delivering the promise of warmer days to come. It seemed everywhere I looked tiny bluets spread out in lengthy carpets along the edges of the trail, mirroring the clarity of the sky above me, while flame azalea reflected the sunsets of which I was so fond. How could I have been so ignorant of such an exquisite element of the Appalachian Trail? How could I have always been questing after the big picture, while overlooking the smaller elements that make up the whole? It was time to learn more about this natural world of which I was becoming a part.”

When I read that quote, “ignorant” is the word that resonates with me the most. Nature has a way of instructing us and showing us just how little we know and how often we’re looking at the wrong things. All the more reason to keep books nearby and measure your own adventures and outdoor experiences by the folks who have done it before.

Bluets bloom April through late June and can be found from Georgia to Maine along the Appalachian Trail.

Wildflowers are a wonderfully simple reminder of the joys you can find on and around the Appalachian Trail. And, if you’re safe at home these days, the colors you’ll see while learning the varieties make for a rewarding break in the day. We hope you’re well and able to get outside soon.