Trail Blazing Wildflower Adventures

By Julie Napolitano|April 24, 2014

 Galearis spectabilisPhoto by Julie Napolitano.

Galearis spectabilis
Photo by Julie Napolitano.

Spring is one of my favorite times of year and hiking through my local state parks is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience this change of seasons. Last year I made it a goal to work on my wildflower identification skills but staring at pictures in a field guide just wasn’t cutting it, so I put on my hiking boots, grabbed my iPhone, and set out for the closest trail—Patapsco Valley State Park.

Trillium flexipesPhoto by Julie Napolitano.

Trillium flexipes
Photo by Julie Napolitano.

Last year, I identified close to 30 native wildflowers in the Mid-Atlantic area, with Galearis spectabilis being my favorite. This year I have continued that tradition and am challenging myself to find and identify 10 new species. I started my search in the same place as last year (since I had such good luck) and found some familiar favorites, but no new species. Last Friday after completing a bee survey at the Bridgestone New Beginnings – Woodlawn Wildlife Habitat in Cecil County, Maryland, I decided to forgo the traffic and stop for a hike in Susquehanna State Park. The park’s Susquehanna Ridge Trail boasts magnificent views of the Susquehanna River Valley and happened to be home to my first three, new native wildflower species of the year: Trillium flexipes, Mertensia virginica, and Dicentra cucullaria!

Mertensia virginicaPhoto by Julie Napolitano.

Mertensia virginica
Photo by Julie Napolitano.

While I found these flowers hiking the trails of my local state parks, the same opportunity presents itself to those programs that have a nature trail. The Albemarle Corporation Orangeburg Facility, Occidental Petroleum Prairie Wetland Conservation Area, and Monsanto Luling Plant programs are just three examples of how to use nature trails for education on corporate lands. Not only do nature trails provide an opportunity for learning outdoors, like I have been using them to heighten observation and identification skills, they also have a wellness factor—something that can fit quite nicely into worksite wellness programs.

Dicentra cucullariaPhoto by Julie Napolitano.

Dicentra cucullaria
Photo by Julie Napolitano.

You can check out our on-demand webinar, Using Trails as Pathways for Conservation Education and Wellness, for an online course on how trails can help your team meet goals in education by providing a platform for learning as well as some evidence-based information on the health benefits of trails.

I invite you to share your favorite wildflower spottings and check back for more on my 2014 trail blazing wildflower adventures!

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