Yvonne is a Louisiana Master Gardener and a former president of the Folsom Native Plant Society. She gives talks about sustainable gardens.
Taiwan Cherry Tree
Pictorial Tour of South Louisiana Habitat
In south Louisiana, spring usually comes early. Thankfully this year T-Boy the Nutria predicted an end to winter, 6 weeks from February 2nd. I thought some of those poor souls who are still experiencing the ravages of winter (and anyone who likes spring flowers), might enjoy taking a virtual walk to see pictures of some of the the flowers and spring leaves that were emerging in our 9 acre habitat around March first.
I'll be your tour guide as we observe both native plants and old-fashioned, introduced ones.
We'll start with an introduced species, the Taiwan Cherry Tree. The lovely flowers begin to open up in late late January and by February, they are in full bloom. I've seen Orange Crowned Warblers and wintering Hummingbirds drinking from the blossoms and they are often covered with honey bees. When the cherries are ripe, fruit eating birds like Mockingbirds, Catbirds and Cedar Waxwings cover the trees.
White Bog Violets
Wild Blueberry Flowers
Yellow Jessamine Vine
Red Buckeye Leaves & Buds
Native Early Spring Flowers
Native flowering and fruiting plants are an important part of our landscape. Not only do we keep a large portion of our 9 acre habitat wild, but we transplant many native plants into the 2 acre portion that is cultivated. We concentrate on native flowering perennials for our beds and borders because they will multiply and come back every year.
Members of the Viola family are one of the first to bloom in spring. The blue violets are my favorite and range in color from pale blue to deep purple. The most common blue violet is Langlois Violet (Viola langloisii). It grows in part shade on the edges of woodlands, in limestone driveways and in lawns. Blue violets make an excellent border plant and are one of the multipurpose plants used in sustainable gardening. The leaves and flowers are delicious and are high in Vitamin C.
The white violets actually begin blooming in late December and early January. In Louisiana, we have several varieties of white violets. This one is called Bog Violet or Primrose-leaved Violet (Viola primulifolia). This lovely small plant covers boggy, part shade areas and will grow in almost any type of moist soil, even clay. Sometimes stands are so thick with flowers that it looks like snow is covering the ground.
Wild Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are also called 'Huckleberries' here in the south. The flowers can be light pink or white, depending on the species and they are followed by delicious purplish blackberries. Some are the size of B-B's and others are as large as some cultivated blueberries. These hardy plants were the parents of the cultivated blueberry. Our favorite is Vaccinium eloitii, Elliot's Blueberry. Wild blueberries are another one of the versatile native plants with beautiful fall foliage, attractive flowers and delicious fruit. Any of the Vaccinium spp. are good additions to a sustainable or wildlife garden. Both winter hummingbirds and the returning Ruby-throated drink from the nectar rich flowers.
The bright flowers of the Yellow Jessamine Vine (Gelsemium sempervirens) dot the woods and roadsides in late February and March. The partially evergreen foliage and yellow flowers of this native vine are also attractive on an arbor or fence. It is a good addition to a wildlife garden because many pollinators use the nectar rich flowers, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, however it is poisonous to humans. Care should be taken with small children. We let it run up naturally into the trees.
Red Buckeye Tree (Aesculus pavia) bronze colored early leaves and buds are an attractive addition to the late winter / early spring landscape. A large spike of red flowers soon opens. Older trees may be covered with these spikes of flowers and hummingbirds can often be seen visiting the nectar rich blooms. The large brown seed that follows on this deciduous tree resembles the eye of a buck deer, hence the name 'buckeye'. The 'buckeyes' are easy to plant and can be just "heeled" into the ground.
Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana) despite its confusing name, this plum is a small native tree. It and the other native plums are covered with lovely white flowers in early March. Edible fruit follows. Plum trees also have good fall color, making them another of those multipurpose native trees. In landscaping they look nice planted in a group and paired with some native azaleas or wild (or domesticated) blueberries. The plums make delicious jelly, jam and pies.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) is another attractive, white blooming, berry producing native deciduous tree. This small tree grows along small rivers and streams and in moist woodland areas. The tasty bluish black berries are a favorite of the eastern bluebird and were dried by Native Americans and used in pemmican.
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is one of my favorite medium sized native deciduous trees. When ever I see one, it reminds me of the house where I grew up. Hummingbirds use the purplish-red flowers that cover the tree in early March. The leaves turn shades of yellow in fall and put on quite a show.
Landscaping with Native Plants Books
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My Favorite Southern Native Plants Book
Introduced Old-Fashioned Flowers
Japanese Magnolia (magnolia liliiflora) is an introduced tree. Another common name is Tulip Tree because the flowers are shaped like tulips. There are many colors of this attractive small tree. They range from deep red-purple to pink and white. Many pollinators are attracted to this colorful, deciduous tree.
Purple Viola (Viola spp.) are lovely additions to the winter garden in the south. I prefer the smaller ones which are often called 'Johnny Jump Ups'. Pansies are also lovely and come in many colors. Blooms and leaves are edible and like the native violets, contain vitamin C.
Red Abutilon (Abutilon spp.) is a favorite nectar plant of hummingbirds. Cold winters will sometimes kill the branches back to the ground, but with a little cover or several inches of mulch, they will come back. I had one that bloomed all winter because it was partially covered with a sheet of plastic that enclosed our screened porch.
White Camellia (Camellia Japonica) and many other Camellia colors bloom from December through March. Freezing weather will burn the open flowers, but the tight buds are usually not harmed and open up to put on a beautiful show, when the weather warms up again.
Primrose Jasmine (Jasminum
mesnyi) is an evergreen, mounding shrub which dates back to old Victorian gardens. The bright yellow flowers begin blooming in late February and continue through March. The draping branches of the bushes will form very large mounds, so they must be given plenty of room to grow.
Old-fashioned Early Spring Flowering Plants
More Early Sping Flowers
- Early Spring Nature Walk
Spring usually comes early to southeastern Louisiana, but in 2010, the flowers were a couple of weeks later that normal. The wet cold winter provided good conditions for most plants, especially the flowering bulbs and wildflowers.We walked around our
- Native Violas and Violets of Louisiana
Members of the Viola family (Violets) are some of the first flowers to appear in early spring. Violets are an excellent ground cover plant for shady or part sunny areas and can be used in place of expensive, high maintenance exotic turf grass.The flo
- Folsom Louisiana Native Plant Society Seasonal Guide
List of the beautiful native flowering plants of Louisiana by the season of their blooms.
Tell us about your early spring flowers.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 07, 2016:
Beautiful flowers! Great hub! This is giving me early ideas to pick out this spring's flowers to plant, if these can be grown in containers.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on September 08, 2011:
You are so right. Now that the weather is getting cooler, I plan to spend hours outside with my camera.
sensiva on September 08, 2011:
Beautiful. I still find that nature gives us the most beautiful photo opportunities as you illustrate in your hub!
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on May 30, 2011:
Thank you, Michael. I enjoy going out into my garden with my camera each morning to see what the day brings.
MichaelStonehill on May 30, 2011:
Lovely pictures of beautiful flowers. It is realy more difficult to photograph flowers than most people expect, and the compositions are very nice.
Yvonne L. B. (author) from South Louisiana on March 02, 2011:
Thanks Manny, That shot was one of those happy accidents that turned out just right. I took about 30 pictures of the flowers that day and 2 were top notch. I love digital cameras!
mannyrolando on March 01, 2011:
Really nice hub and beautiful photographs. I specially liked the first photograph, great shot, and the bee, a plus!