Tag Archives: spring ephemeral

Wild Hyacinth Camassia scilloides

Camassia scilloides Cory

April to May                                                 N                                 Family: Liliaceae

 wild hyacinth flower

Flower: Light blue to white, six petaled flowers on inch long stalks surround the stem. The cluster can include as many as 80 flowers. Six stamens stick out from around the green ovary bulge in the center of the flower. The flowers at the bottom of the cluster open first followed by those further up as new buds form on the tip of the stem.

wild hyacinth side flower

Leaf: The leaves are all basal and grass like. They are green, slightly darker on the under side, with parallel veins. The leaves have no hairs.

wild hyacinth leaf

Stem: A single smooth green flower stalk with no leaves on it can reach two feet but is usually 12” to 18”.

wild hyacinth stem

Root: The perennial root is a bulb.


Habitat: This plant likes light shade and moist, rich soil. It favors ravines, edges of woods and roadside ditches.

Wild Hyacinth

wild hyacinth plant

Wild Hyacinth flower clusters are looser and the flower petals thinner than the garden varieties. They only come in light blue to white. The plants still put on a display.

The six petals are referred to as tepals. This is because three are petals. The other three are sepals. They look the same so the flower appears to have six petals.

The plants tend to grow in groups. They can line the roadside for twenty feet from the edge of the ditch to four feet up. Then there are none.

On the hillside in the edge of the woods Wild Hyacinth grows near seeps or where water flows after a rain. These plants do like it moist but not wet. They will grow in full sun but seem to prefer partial light shade.

Although the Indians ate the bulbs, the plant is similar to a poisonous calla. The bulbs are small and not really worth the effort even with positive identification.

Wild Hyacinth is one of the spring ephemerals. It blooms for only a month, sets seed and disappears.


Jacob’s Ladder Polemonium reptans

The spring ephemerals including Jacob’s Ladder are up and starting to bloom all over the Ozarks. They try to grow, bloom and seed before the trees leaf out blocking the sunlight from the forest floor.

Each plant has a storage root with the food needed to bloom. It is restocked while the seeds form.

Once the seeds are ripe and disbursed, the plant withers and vanishes. Only the root remains alive and waiting for the next spring rush.

Polemonium reptans L.

April to June                                                 N                                 Family: Polemoniaceae

Jacob's Ladder flower

Flower: A thin hairy stalk ends in an olive green calyx of five pointed sepals around the base of five, light blue, thin petals forming a flaring bell-shaped flower an inch across. A long white pistil extends outmost of the length of the petals and has a style split into three parts. Five stamens of different lengths surround the pistil. Each flower cluster tends to be wider than long with five to seventeen flowers.

Jacob's Ladder side flower

Leaf: Alternate compound leaves have an end leaflet and three to nine pairs of opposite leaflets. Each leaflet has a prominent midvein. The central petiole has scattered hairs on it and bulges to partially wrap the stem.

Jacob's Ladder leaf

Stem: A single stem grows up to 18 inches tall. The sparsely hairy stems are green but turn reddish especially in the sun. The stem branches putting out several flowering stems.

Jacob's Ladder under leaf

Root: The root is a woody perennial one.

Jacob's Ladder stem


Habitat: This plant likes moist shady areas such as ravines and edges of low woods of deciduous trees.

Jacob’s Ladder

Greek Valerian

Jacob's Ladder plant

Jacob’s Ladder looks like clusters of small blue bells tucked under still bare trees in the early spring. The name comes from the leaves which look like an old makeshift ladder with a single central pole and crossbar rungs. This is another of the spring ephemerals that blooms, sets seed and goes dormant by early summer.

The pale blue flowers seem to appear often in a double row. They can point up or down yet seem to point out straight like a bank of ballpark lights.

The seed pods are light green balls and can seem to promise another round of flowers. The next round of flowers will be the next spring when some of these seeds may be plants themselves.