Spring Wildflower season can go by quickly in the Pacific Northwest....especially if you are a parent!
It can be hard to keep track of what's blooming when you're also managing extracurricular activities, end-of-the-year school events, and spring holidays.
Maybe you’ve already got this wildflower thing down. But chances are you have you have a vague sense of when things look really pretty, but you aren’t sure what you are supposed to be looking at or which weekend to reserve to go explore.
In this post, we are here to help you out on two of the most iconic PNW spring wildflowers - Trilliums and Camas Lilies.
Trilliums: The Flowers of the Forest
(Season: March thru mid-May)
If you’ve visited a forest in the Pacific Northwest in April, chances are you’ve probably seen more than your share of trilliums. These flowers carpet the forest floor, beginning in late March, with their season ending in early May.
You’ll find trilliums close to the ground, often in clumps, usually either white or pale pink.
The reason for the color differences? The type found in Oregon/Washington (known as Western Trilliums) start out white, then fade to pink or even Burgundy as they age and post-pollination.
If there's one bit of advice we could pass on to the little ones, it's simply this:
Never pick a trillium.
We can’t stress this enough. Why? Because they are extremely fragile and picking them damages their food supply and can kill the entire plant.
Do you have a little one who just can’t resist? We have a free download activity to help you out! Bring this sheet with you on the trail and use those hands to point and count.
Some of our favorite family friendly places in the area to find trilliums include Tryon Creek State Park in Portland, Bridal Veil Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Canemah Bluff Nature Park in Oregon City, and Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton.
Our trail packets for Canemah Bluff and Tualatin Hills include stickers for trilliums. All four places have areas for picnicking. Tualatin Hills and Tryon Creek have great visitors centers. Canemah Bluff has a playground.
(Season: Mid April thru May, sometimes early June)
See the photo at the top of this this post? That's the Camassia Nature Trail and almost all those flowers in that meadow are camas lilies.
When you are in a camas lily meadow during peak season, the entire landscape transforms itself.
Their peak season is late April thru May (think Easter through Memorial Day). Most are lavender, but you’ll also find white and pink varieties as well.
Camas Lilies are also fragile flowers, which is one of the reasons we encourage families to try exploring the areas known for these flowers with a trail packet or some kind of other tool (magnifying glass, binoculars) to keep little hands busy.
Practically speaking, if your little one has scavenger hunt stickers in their hand, they are less likely to be tempted to grab a flower.
Camas Lilies fields are also wonderful places to observe pollinating bees, which are so inthralled with the flowers themselves that they don’t even notice you. Stay on the trail, look closely, and watch these amazing creatures at work.
Camas lilies can be found in protected meadow and prairie areas around the region, including Camassia Nature Park, Canemah Bluff Nature Park, Cooper Mountain…or if you are road tripping it, try exploring Catherine Creek near White Salmon, Washington.
Have a favorite place to see these iconic spring wildflowers? We’d love to hear about in the comments. :)
Bryna R. Campbell