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Wild for Wildflowers


Enjoy the last wildflower bloom report for this season.


It's wildflower season - get out and explore. Early spring wildflowers are commonly called ephemerals, which means “short-lived.” Their dazzling show of spring color is only a limited engagement, so take time to see the flowers before they are gone.


Report Date Area Description of Woodland Wildflower Blooms
5/12/2024 Northern Iowa

Find Virginia bluebells, many colors of phlox, wild geranium, columbine, garlic mustard, fleabane, Virginia waterleaf, marsh marigold, mayapples, buttercup, oxeye daisy, hepatica, prairie ragwort and blue, yellow, and white violets on Paint Creek Trail at Yellow River State Forest in Allamakee County. Yellow rocketcress is blooming at South Riverside Trail in Waterloo/Cedar Falls. Phlox is still still blooming, but starting to fade.

Wild geranium, phlox, wild anise, mayapple and waterleaf are at or near peak throughout Buchanan County. Find violets, buttercup, yellow violet, wild ginger, Jacob’s ladder, wild cherry, highbush cranberry, nannyberry, black raspberry, columbine, jack-in-the-pulpit, starry false and Solomon’s seal. Nodding trillium, hoary puccoon, blue cohash, shooting star and showy orchid are scattered. Common non-natives are dandelion, creeping Charlie, garlic mustard, yellow cress, chickweed and ragwort.

5/13/2024 Central Iowa

Common blue violet, white trout lilies, ramps, blue phlox, false rue anemone, bristly buttercup, downy yellow violet, field penny-cress and Jack-in-the-pulpit, wild columbine and Virginia waterleaf are blooming at Hagge and Grant Parks in Sac County.

Wild columbine, Virginia waterleaf, blue phlox, wild geranium, sweet cicely and blue, yellow and white violets are blooming in Guthrie County. Black Cherry trees are blooming and filling the woods with lovely fragrance. Jack-in-the-pulpit is popping up all over the place.

5/13/2024 Southern Iowa

Common blue violet, Jack-in-the-pulpit, blue phlox, spring beauty, wild geranium, prairie trillium, mayapples, wild ginger, Virginia waterleaf, Canadian lousewort, Dame’s rocket, larkspur, spiderwort, and wild columbine are blooming in Jefferson County.

Spring beauty, violets, woodland phlox, wild ginger, mayapples, and Jack-in-the-pulpit are blooming in Appanoose County. Find leaves of bloodroot, green dragon, Solomon’s seal, Virginia waterleaf, raspberry and catmint.


5/13/2024 Western Iowa

Find Virginia waterleaf, wild sarsaparilla, violets, fringed puccoon, hoary puccoon, Jack-in-the-pulpit, columbine, white eyed and blue eyed grass, Dame’s rocket (invasive) and garlic mustard (invasive) in Sioux County.

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Spring is Blooming

Wildflowers are enticing treasures for wilderness lovers each year. One of the most encouraging signs of spring, the first wildflowers seem to bloom overnight.

Early spring wildflowers are commonly called ephemerals, which means “short-lived.” Their dazzling show of spring color is only a limited engagement, so take time to see the flowers before they are gone.

Wildflowers can be found by simply walking, or biking along trails, on a hike through a local or Iowa state park or just driving slowly along a county road. It's illegal to pick wildflowers in public conservation areas, so hunt only with your camera or sketch your finds.

Which wildflowers will you discover this spring?

Spotting secretive wildflowers is a refreshing, unique spring activity for the whole family. Get outside this spring and see what you can find. Please take only pictures and leave the flowers for others to enjoy!

Look for these common Iowa spring wildflowers.

Tick Talk

More than a dozen tick species are found in Iowa, but three are most common - blacklegged (aka deer tick), dog tick (aka wood tick) and the lone star tick. Ticks are active March through November. 

Prevention is best:

  • wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into socks
  • light colored clothes make finding ticks easier.
  • use repellent containing DEET
  • add permethrin repellents on clothing per label
  • Check for ticks afield and at home.

If you find yourself outdoors without tweezers and need to remove a tick, use fine weight fishing line, thread or floss tied into a simple overhand knot. Gently tighten the knot around the head of the tick. Slowly pull the ends of the line to tighten the knot and pull out the tick.

Get outdoors with your camera!

Spring colors are popping across Iowa. Here's some easy wildflower photography tips:

  • Avoid full, direct sunlight which can wash out colors. Early and late times of day yields dramatic side lighting.

  • Overcast days are best with soft and even light that contrasts nicely against saturated or delicate wildflower colors.

  • Moisture can help give photos interest. Shoot during light mist, or after a light rain. Droplets on leaves and flowers add interest.

  • Get down low for better flower photos. People are used to standing eye-level views. For more dramatic photos, change the perspective and get down to flower level. Wear old clothes or bring something to lay on to get down on a knee or your belly to create more interesting images taken from a ground-perspective.

Make a Nature Journal

A nature journal is great for sketching the wildflowers you see. It’s also a fun way to record your outdoor adventures anytime you are out exploring - your backyard, a park or preserve. Look, listen, feel and have fun in nature!

Nature Journal Supplies & Instructions

Attend a Local Event

The Iowa DNR, county conservation boards and city park and recreation departments often offer wildflower hikes. Check their webpages for a calendar of events.

DNR Event Calendar

Wildflower Guides

  • Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands by Sylvan Runkel and Alvin Bull
  • Iowa Trees & Wildflowers: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Plants by James Kavanagh
  • Wildflowers of the Midwest: Your Way to Easily Identify Wildflowers by Stan Tekiela
  • A Peterson Field Guide To Wildflowers: Northeastern and North-central North America by Margaret McKenny and Roger Tory Peterson
  • Wildflowers of the Midwest: A Field Guide to Over 600 Wildflowers in the Region by Don Kurz
  • Wildflowers of Southeastern Iowa -Volume 1 Spring by Don Weiss

Baby Wildlife (leave them alone if you find them!)

If you see wildlife babies on their own, let them be - their parents know best, and most wildlife leave nests or dens well in advance of being able to care for themselves. Although broods or litters may become widely scattered during this fledgling period, they still remain under the direct care and feeding of their parents.

Not only is taking in wildlife illegal, it can often doom the creature you're trying to save. Learn more about what you can do to support wildlife babies on the DNR webpage.