Back in 2012, to my delight, Spring arrived early in the mountains of Appalachia. By mid-March, the bloodroot and trout lilies–the first flowers of spring– had already bloomed and were on their way to seed! Spring was suddenly advancing quickly, and I wanted to be outdoors to welcome it. At about the same time, I got my first digital camera, and I was anxious to try it out. So, I set a goal and settled on a long-term project…
My plan was to photograph all the wildflowers I could find in my little part of southwest Virginia that year. I wanted to learn them by name, discover what I could about their timing and uses, and keep a photo journal of them by season.
So I got started snapping pictures in March and time flew by. The parade of woodland wildflower species faltered once the tree canopy filled in, but then suddenly the fields and roadsides lit up with color and I found myself stalking the flowers that loved open sunshine too. Spring gave way to summer, and summer to fall. By November, I was still at it, photographing late-blooming color whenever I could find it, as well as the seed pods of things that had flowered earlier in the year. By then I had a backlog of pictures that I had not yet posted or even identified in some cases, so my project slowly crept into wintertime as I attempted to catch up.
As spring approached again, I knew there were holes in my journal. I was missing clear photos of many species or in some cases I was missing the species altogether. I decided to do what I could to fill in the holes by retracing some of my steps from last year. But when March rolled around, spring was late. Almost nothing was in bloom until April, and once the progression of wildflowers finally did begin, there were fits and starts as the cold weather advanced and retreated. I gained a new appreciation for the spread of bloom dates that I always see in field guides (e.g. March-June): apparently those spreads reflect not only variation due to latitude and elevation, but also variations in weather from year to year.
I am still finding new species and adding them to the blog when I can, and believe it or not, I am now approaching my tenth spring on this project. My original plan to have a photo journal entitled something like “A Year in Wildflowers” will, in all likelihood, take more time to pull off!
If you are game for the adventure, you can “follow” along with me as I add more species and photos to this blog, and you can also try to spot these beauties blooming in your own neck of the woods. Wildflowers are awesome, and I continue to be amazed at the sheer diversity of species that can be found on the east coast of the United States.
To navigate this site, you can go directly to the ALL FLOWERS section in the top menu. You’ll see a complete listing of species there (by season). To some extent, you can also search by color, or by common or scientific name if you know it. Just click on the SEARCH tab in the main menu, or plug your key word into the “Search” widgets you’ll find at the bottom of any page.
Last but not least– a selection of local fungi have made their way onto this site (fungi are like that!). That’s because I ran into a few members of the New River Valley Mushroom Club while I was out in the woods –and it didn’t take long for their enthusiasm to rub off on me too!
Welcome to Virginia Wildflowers– I hope you enjoy your visit!
You can contact me (Gloria) by email (email@example.com), or drop me a line in the space below any of my posts. If you click the “Follow” button, you’ll be notified by email when I post something new. Thanks!
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Can’t wait for more posts. Tell Stephen thank you for the calls. I will check Sweet Springs tomorrow. We are in Atlanta this weekend helping with backyard projects.
As usual, fantastic photographs, and a great reminder to “take a walk in the woods.”
I’m so amazed at your knowledge and photography. WOW!
What a wonderful blog! I will be following your future posts and also coming back whenever I want to have a browse through these patiently taken and collected (and extremely beautiful) photographs. Thanks.
Thanks, and welcome, Louise! Hope you’ll be back now that spring is ready to explode!
I have, what I think is a mushroom,growing in my front yard. I wanted to attach a picture to see if by chance you could identify it. By the way, we live in Powhatan, Virginia
you can send the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
While searching to find Virginia Wildflowers I came across your blog and my first thought was, Wow! Your photos are amazingly clear and definitive. Now I have a source for identifying the myriad of wildflowers I stumble upon while out photographing birds and other wildlife of Virginia.
Thanks for your outstanding work!
Thanks, Otis! It has been a rewarding project for me. Not only have I learned a lot about wildflowers by keeping this “journal”, but I’ve also connected with a lot of people. After 3 years of operation the site gets a lot of traffic, especially in springtime. I feel good about that. Thanks for leaving the note! To tell you the truth, I’d be out photographing birds too if I had a better camera. Birds were my first love!
I live 3 miles from the NC state line in Mecklenburg VA and I have a strange plant with a strange name growing in my garden. I think it is a Carolina Elephant’s Foot. Does that make it a Virginia wildflower too?
LOL! I never saw this plant before–that is, until around Labor Day, when I was on the Outer Banks for a late-summer vacation. This plant was growing extensively in the maritime forests I visited (because Tropical Storm Hermione made going to the beach impossible!). I took lots of pictures and meant to look it up. Your message is timely and I’m grateful to you for reminding me to do this. Since you live in Virginia and you’ve seen it here, then by all means, it qualifies for the website! 🙂
If you want to take photos yourself and send them to me, I’ll include them with my own and give you a Shout Out! Thanks so much, Joyce!
What a fine blog! It is a joy to scroll through the gifts you offer, and a helpful reference as well. Thanks for your work!
Superb website and photography. Your work is head and shoulders above anything I’ve seen anywhere else on the ‘net!
Love your website! I am a senior at VCU studying Biology and am taking a Field Botany course this summer. And I recognize a few of the ones you’ve posted! I’m browsing the internet for ideas on a final project and thought of basing it on the beautiful wildflowers of the James River Park System. Have you been out to this part of the state during your tour of Virginia Wildflowers? I would really like an insider’s scoop on good locations to find more flowers!
Thanks for your comments! Unfortunately I have not been to the area that you are describing, although I imagine most of the flowers on my site would also be found near the James. In terms of giving you tips on place to go to see flowers in the James River Park System, I can’t help you with that question. If your journeys take you further into Southwest Virginia, especially near Blacksburg, I could give you place to go around here. Good luck with your project!
Hi Gillian, Would love to drop you a note to maybe help me with a wee little bloom i’ve been trying to ID for weeks now … but I can’t find an email for you here … please feel free to get back to me at my email and i can send you a picture.
Sure! Email me: email@example.com 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful, detailed wildflower knowledge! I’m fairly new to the (North American) fauna, and your blog has ended many a frustrated flipping through my Audubon wildflower guide.
Do you think you will ever offer a guided wildflower walk? I live outside Blacksburg, and aside from myself, I can think of at least another handful of friends of mine who would LOVE to participate in something like that! It’s so much easier to remember the plants when you actually see them!
Again, thanks so much, and have a wonderful, flower-filled weekend!
I’d love to do that. Spring is the best time. There are a couple of great places to go near Blacksburg in April-June. Let’s get back in touch in early April? Thanks for the nice feedback! Glad to know people visit the site! Gloria
I came across your website today while doing research on some puffballs that I found on our property. I believe that they are gem studded puffballs as they have a covering that is similar to cornmeal, on the surface. Anyways – love your website/blog! I’m a West Coast transplant, living in Dugspur, VA and still learning about the plants here. It was so fun to look through your posts and recognize flowers that I have seen and also to congratulate myself for properly identifying some of them. I saw somewhere here, where I could sign up for email updates, but I can’t seem to find that now. Would love to get updates from you & also interested in any guided walks that you might be planning in the future.
Thank you! nancy
Thanks for your note. I hope you’ll find the blog a good resource in the future.
Before living in Virginia, we spent several years in Corvallis, OR and even more in Mississippi. So I know what you mean about wanting to learn the plants in a new place–that’s largely why I started my wildflower blog/journal. The mountains here are wonderfully diverse, but it also means that it is harder to know all the plants because there are so many kinds!
You can “follow” the blog by clicking the last link in the right sidebar of any page on the site. I’ll get a notice that you are following, and you’ll get an email when there is a new post. I have to say though that my new posts have slowed down quite a bit, due to a busier work schedule and the fact that I’m not finding as many new plants each time I go out. I do know there are many more to find though and many I have photographed that haven’t made it to the blog yet, so there will be some ahead.
All the best!
Tried to get my email on your Wanderlust list but it did not go through and yes I checked the password several times. I am interested in any wildflower walks that you may be leading in the spring of 2016. I am an artist (painter) living in Floyd C. And I love your site !
I absolutely LOVE your blog! As an herbalist who has traveled the country learning plants and now settled in my home state again, your site is a fantastic resource for getting reacquainted with Virginia plants. Keep up the great work, and THANK YOU!
Hi Gloria, I live North of you in Highland County, VA and am very pleased that I came across your blog. There is so much diversity out here in the Western Mountain region, I am continuing to find new plants every year…
Welcome to VA Wildflowers! I’ve never been to Highland County but I expect it must be gorgeous, as well as diverse! One of these days I’ll make it up there! Thanks for stopping in to my website. I’ve been remiss this spring about posting, but have several new plants to add soon. I love to know that people find it useful, so thanks for dropping me a note!
I’ve got quite a few wildflower posts, including some wild orchids, typically under “Appalachia” and “Flora” – in case you are interested. Both Bath and Highland Counties have an amazing diversity of plants. I know you’d enjoy a visit up here 🙂
Hi! Thank you for this great thorough blog. I was able to find a plant I couldn’t identify (Lobelia spicata) with field guides just by paging through the postings! The pictures of all the parts and from different angles and states of bloom are excellent!
Wow, that’s great! I love knowing that someone else is using the information and photos! Thanks so much for dropping me a note! -gloria
Thank you so much for the stunning photos. I found your blog when I scanned Google images to find the name of a gorgeous patch of wildflowers (Moth Mullein!) that line my drive. I live near enough (Riner) that I would come, at a moment’s notice, to any guided walks you might offer. Is there any chance that you might go low-tech and paper publish?
I’d love to join you on a walk sometime but it would have to be on the weekend…I still work full time at Tech. I have missed much of the wildflower season this year due to a busy schedule, but I’d love to get out!
I’m looking for a print, chart, or something of the sort depicting Virginia’s wildflowers along with a label of their name to frame and hang as decoration. Any suggestion as to where I might purchase such a piece?
Thank you kindly.
Sorry, I can’t help you with that question. I don’t know the answer. Good luck finding what you need!
Check the Virginia Department of Forestry. They had a nice print a couple of years ago.
I adore your site and enjoy your knowledge. You have Inspired me.
Check with the Virginia Department of Forestry. They had one a couple of years ago!
Thank you! I’ll look into that, do you think it’s something that might be on their website?
I love your site! I came across it when i was trying to ID Snakeroot for my Master Gardener Group. I did a google search and yours came up. I linked your site on our Facebook page. I live in the Buffalo, NY area and we have many of the wild flowers you have pictured. Keep up the good work, your inspirational!
Thanks so much! I’m so glad you think it will be useful!
Hi Gloria, thanks to your pictures and thorough descriptions I was able to positively identify several of the wildflowers I found today in Bath County, VA. Especially the Birdsfoot Violet!
Just ran across your blog by accident but an immediate fan! I hope you’re involved with the NRV Virginia Master Naturalists! What a treasure this site is! THANK YOU!
Yes, I was enrolled in the NRV Master Naturalists a few years ago. I think most of their instructors know about this blog.
Hope you’ll find my photo posts valuable in the future!
Love your site and just signed up. Your ground cedar post was just what I was looking for.
Best website for Virginia Wildflowers!! I live east of Richmond now after living in Northern Virginia for 30 years. I am enjoying finding the seasonal flowers in my ‘neck of the woods’!
Hello Gloria, I tried several other websites trying to identify a common yellow flower just now blossoming along the Potomac in Northern Virginia and was getting a little frustrated at the poor photography and organization, then found yours. Your photos and description of what I now know is Maximilian’s Sunflower were perfect. Thanks again. I will visit often.
Thanks, David! That sunflower is a real late-season treasure! Glad you stopped by!
Your website is beautiful! I am a member of a Master Gardeners group in Indiana. Would you give us permission to reproduce a one of your photos of Eastern Smooth Beardtongue on a sign we are making in our new Pollinator-Friendly Garden? We would be very grateful for your help!
Jackie–Sorry I’m so late seeing this request. By all means, feel free to use the photos for this purpose! That would be great!
I love this blog! Thank you for taking the time to put it together. I work in the natural resources field and know the discipline it must take to produce on a project like this. Keep up the good work!
Thanks, Laura! Yes, it takes some time and patience to keep up the site, but I enjoy it and I’ve had lots of good feedback. It makes me happy to know other people are using the site 🙂
Hi, Gloria! I’m so glad to meet you and your charming Virginia Wildflower blog. Just today I stumbled onto this site as I continued a bit of research on the wildflowers at Monticello, this week’s focus on my series exploring colonial Virginia gardens (www.invitationtothegarden.WordPress.com). So MANY different wildflowers in your area! What a treat for you. Did you ever find Dame’s Rocket? I found it growing at Monticello and, later, ordered seeds for this biennial for my gardens in Washington state. Yes, it’s a long way to Virginia, my Dame Family seat. I’d love to know where the name comes from. Do you?
I don’t know off hand where the name comes from (Dames Rocket), but we do see it locally in the spring time here in Blacksburg.
A quick on-line research indicates it other names, each one just as fanciful: damask violet, dame’s-violet, dames-wort, dame’s gilliflower, night-scented gilliflower, queen’s gilliflower, rogue’s gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening and winter gilliflower.
What a coincidence your post about Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) is for me! I just wrote about milkweed this week, called “Seeds in Silk” as part of a series on plants material for monarch butterflies.
I’ve often come up on the term “poke weed” in novels set in Apalachia, books like IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE by Leah Weiss. “Poke” is a paper bag or sack, for example, but “poke weed” was listed as one of many wild flowers. From your pictures, I can see why this milkweed is called “poke weed” because the little hanging flowers look like tiny paper sacks!
May I reblog your post as a guest blog on my site this week (August 16, 2018)? I’m sure my readers would love to see it. Let me know please at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for permission to use your poke milkweed post on my blog. Have you seen it yet? I do hope I’ve help direct more traffic flow to your neck of the woods.
This is my go-to place for identifying wildflowers throughout the spring and summer– you have no idea how many times I’ve referenced your site after hikes. My favorite part is that you have so many pictures of each plant from so many angles and in multiple seasons. Thank you!!
Thanks for leaving a comment here and for your kind words. Getting feedback like this makes me want to keep at it! 🙂 Happy Trails!
What a lovely site! So happy I stumbled upon it. Thanks for all the work you have invested to arrive at this beautiful compendium of information.
Thank YOU! I am so happy to share my natural history journal with people like you! I hope the information here continues to be a resource for you.
So glad I stumbled on this website! It’s a wonderful compendium of information and the photos are a feast for the eyes. Thank you for all the work you have invested in producing this website for everyone!
Oh, thanks for visiting and for your kind words! It makes me happy to know that people are using the website!
Hi there! Thank you so much for making this site, it’s been super helpful for identifying the many wildflowers I find! I was curious if you know what kind of flower this is?
It was on a sort of viny plant.
I found it this evening and haven’t been able to identify it yet.
Enjoyed your site Gloria!
This is such a great website, and I especially love the fungi sections! Thanks for all the great documentation.
Thanks so much, Justin!
This site is incredible. i am so happy to have stumbled upon it. My children and I are always trying to discover and name new plants around our farm and this is so helpful!
Gloria, what a great wildflower site! I have been using your gorgeous photography to help identify unknown flowers for several years now. Your commentary is helpful, interesting and entertaining. Please keep up the good work!
Recently tried to sort out all the confusing “wintergreen” among what appears to be at least 3 genuses. A similar plant missing from your list is partridge berry (Mitchella reopens). Now that I finally have it identified, can I suggest adding it to your list to distinguish it from “wintergreen”? It’s very common in our area of the Blue Ridge.
This site is fantastic! I’ve been using it to help me identify all the flowers/fungus I see while out wandering in the forest in SW Virginia.
Thanks, Laura. I’m so glad it is helpful!
We always called the milkweed floating seeds money stealers too. My Mom always said that they were called money stealers because when you ran and jumped to catch them all the change in your pockets flew out.
Gloria, your photography is beyond beautiful, and immersing myself in your images made my day. I stumbled on your site while trying to identify native flowers in my Missouri yard. What a wonderful and soul-nourishing project!
Thanks so much for your kind remarks, Pat! I hope you come back often!
Thank you for sharing the stunning photographs! I live in West Texas so I was not familiar with these species. It was so fun to learn from you. Just WOW!!!!!!!
Hi Glo! This is so beautiful! I had no idea you had created this until someone posted it on the Virginia Native Plant Society FB page. Wow! Truly amazing photos!
Coming at it in 2022, this site has become a really useful resource for people researching these things. I’ve been at this game since I was a kid, and I still haven’t identified quite a lot of things around here.
Your blog is my son’s favorite research resource. He showed me your site today, and told me that you had really good write-ups. Indeed you do. In fact, you inspired me to do something similar with this unused blog that’s been sitting here collecting dust for years.
I’m going to focus on the flowers on my own property, and tell their stories. You will recognize many of them. All of the wildflowers were sourced responsibly.
In any case, thanks for putting together what turned into such a great resource. I’ve been identifying things for on the order of 35 years, and there are a lot of oddball little flowers around here that are difficult to track down. Also, thanks for encouraging me to step out of my miserable little hermit bubble. I’m a writer. I just haven’t written anything in years. Depression is a beast.
Also, hey, this is completely random, but you seem to be somewhat local, and we got three witch hazel trees to germinate. We can’t find homes for all three of them on this massively overcrowded little lot. (The seed packet pretty much said to sow them in pots outdoors and wait three to five years. We are pretty stoked that three out of six actually did something after a little over a year.)
Absolutely love your site! What a way to document and share the wild beauty of the regions unsung jewels! Thanks you!
Thank you, Danny! I appreciate your comments!
Is their a way to follow you that doesn’t require a WordPress account? Your photos are wonderful!
This website is so joyful. I have learned to identify so many wildflowers thanks to the easy to use search options (the “color” search option is so wonderful!) Oh my goodness .. a heartfelt thank you for creating this beautiful resource.
I would love some more clues as to where you’ve spotted sundews and grass-of-parnassus, I’ve been to Glen Alton sundew-spotting more than once with no luck. It would be great to get an old pro’s help in photographing the bogs hidden around Giles County!
Just read your post on Yellow Crownbeard. I like to eat them or drink them in a tea. Though they seem to hype me up a bit like caffeine. I gave some dried to a friend because I thought it was helping my arthritis. He is type 2 diabetic (late onset) and after a few months of adding it to his coffee his doctor took him off short acting insulin and now he just takes a long acting. If he quits taking it his blood sugar goes back up… no science, just an accidental observation.