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The Buzz

These are the Wonderful Wildflowers Blooming Right Now Across Will County

Prairie trillium at McKinley Woods. (Photo by Chad Merda)

It's that time of year when the preserves are bursting with color thanks to all of the spring wildflowers and we often get inquiries about what's currently out there. While the questions tend to focus on Virginia bluebells, people often are curious about what else is out there.

Ask and you shall receive.

Right now there is an amazing array to be seen, so here's your guide to what's blooming so you know what to be on the lookout for. If you want to see these beauties, don't wait because some of these could be gone in the blink of an eye.


Virginia bluebells

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

These are some of the most highly-anticipated flowers of the spring. They can be found in many preserves in lowlands near water.

If you can only make it out to one perserve in the coming days, make sure it's Messenger Woods Nature Preserve, where the bluebells cover the forest floor as far as the eyes can see.


(Photo by Chad Merda)

There are a number of different species in bloom right now. They include wood anemone, rue anemone (pictured above), and false rue anemone. They all make good patches of ground cover and have small, white flowers. Rue anemone has six or more petals and the leaves are not deeply lobed.


(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

There are a number of different species in bloom around the county. Look for plants with three leaves, three sepals, and three petals. Prairie trillium (pictured above) is the most common one you'll find. However, it doesn't at all live up to its name considering it is not found in prairies, but instead, in woodlands.

Toadshade trillium

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

This trillium can be yellow or red and often is confused with prairie trillium. Its flower sits on its three leaves.

Great white trillium

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

Great white trillium is the largest of them all. If you're lucky, sometimes you'll find one with pink petals.

Nodding trillium

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

Nodding trillium has a flower that hangs under its three leaves.

Spring beauty

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

These tiny pink flowers are common at many preserves. Just be sure to look closely, otherwise you may miss them. The blooms follow the sun and will close on cloudy days and at night. 

Wild blue phlox

(Photo by Chad Merda)

These colorful plants have a cluster of flowers with petals fused at the base, forming a long tube.

Blue-eyed Mary

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle) 

These flowers are small but make a colorful impact. They are a whorled flower, which means the bloom will circle around the stem.

Jacob's ladder

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle) 

The name of this one isn't totally obvious, but with a little creativity, you can see the leaves are long with leaflets opposite of each other, which may resemble a ladder.   


(Photo by Suzy Lyttle) 

This one definitely isn't your normal flower. It can vary in size and color intensity; some of the leaves may still be curling out.

Wild ginger

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle) 

The flower on this one isn't nearly as easy to find as most other wildflowers. Wild ginger hides its flower close to the ground and you'll have to find two heart-shaped leaves and then look below to see the maroon flower.



(Photo by Suzy Lyttle) 

Mayapples grow in colonies and even though there are many stalks, it's still only one plant. Look for the two leaves joined together and then take a peek in between, where you'll find a bud or flower.  

Wild geranium

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle) 

This flower can cover the forest floor in some preserves. Right now, they are just starting to bloom but in another week, we should be seeing a sea of pink.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.

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