Field Guide: Ohio Wildflowers


Spring has officially sprung, and woodlands throughout our region are wild with natural beauty. Here’s your guide to 10 native wildflowers blooming now, complete with where to find them (the areas listed aren’t the only places they take root, but they’re a good start!), wildflower-locating tips from the pros, and upcoming wildflower events. Time to head outdoors.


WildFlower_AWildflower Hiking for Beginners

Anita Buck of the Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society offers these tips for newbie wildflower seekers:

  • Old-growth or mature forests that have never been pastured or clear-cut have the best wildflower base and usually the fewest invasive plants, which choke out spring wildflowers.
  • Nature preserves often have the best wildflowers, because they receive less foot traffic, but a large park with natural areas (as opposed to playing fields) will often have good wildflowers too. Similarly, privately held preserves as opposed to public parks tend to have well-preserved woodlands, such as the Cincinnati Nature Center, the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System in Highland County, and the Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County.
  • Two of the best wildflower sites in Hamilton County are right in the city, operated by Cincinnati Parks: Buttercup Valley in Northside, and California Woods in Mt. Washington. Both of these preserves have patches of extremely large old trees.
  • Wildflower sites in Northern Kentucky include Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, and Boone Cliffs in Burlington.
  • A number of Hamilton County parks have good stands of mature woods, and the good wildflowers that generally accompany them, including Miami Whitewater Forest and Woodland Mound. Hueston Woods State Park also has a stand of old-growth woods.
  • Lady’s slippers orchids, of which there are various species, are all gorgeous. Cedar Bog, a preserve near Urbana owned by the Ohio Historical Society, is known for its Showy Lady’s Slippers, the largest terrestrial orchid in North America.


Upcoming Wildflower Events

  • The Great Parks of Hamilton County have wildflower walks planned every weekend until mid-May, with details available in their Spring 2015 Guide. Their Wildflower Jamboree on Friday, April 17 at Woodland Mound is especially kid-friendly, with crafts and activities planned for children ages 3 to 5.
  • The Western Wildlife Corridor hosts its ninth annual Wildflower Festival at Mount St. Joseph University on Friday, April 17, and admission to the family-friendly event is free. The following week is the nonprofit’s eleventh annual Flower-a-Thon, a day of guided wildflower hikes through wooded hillsides along the Ohio River ($15 suggested donation).
  • Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford is hosting 90-minute wildflower hikes led by members of the Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society on Saturday, April 25, and Saturday, May 2.


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