Top photo: redbud blossoms

There’s no doubt that a flowering redbud is a beautiful tree. It’s at its peek in March here in central North Carolina. It’s not the earliest of bloomers but it’s one of the most obvious.

Redbud brightens up early spring woodland.

Most people think redbud a southeastern tree, and essentially it is. But it grows as far north as Canada, hence the scientific name Cercis canadensis. And, it’s the state tree of Oklahoma.

Redbud’s small, magenta, pea-like flowers are edible. They can be used in a salad or eaten right off the tree. To me, they have a sweet, crisp, carrot-like taste, others say they’re sour. I guess it’s up to the individual.

You can eat the redbud’s tiny flowers.
The colors are more saturated on damp, overcast days.

Just starting to bloom at this time is coral honeysuckle, a favorite of ruby-throated hummingbirds as they return from their wintering areas in Central America or the Gulf Coast of the US. Coral honeysuckle is a woody vine native to the eastern states.

Coral honeysuckle just starting to bloom.

Another vine showing off its tubular florescence is jessamine. It’s bright yellow flower belies the fact that the plant’s leaves, flowers and roots are toxic to both humans and livestock.

Toxic, yet beautiful, Carolina jessamine.

Golden ragwort (that’s ragwort, not ragweed) is also in bloom. Some people call it golden groundsel.

Golden ragwort.

Golden ragwort is a native, herbaceous perennial and is sometimes used as a ground cover by gardeners. It seems to prefer shaded areas. The one pictured was planted and resides near the top of the boardwalk leading to Explore the Wild. The flowers are beneficial to spring pollinators.

Not quite blooming, but ready to pop is red buckeye, a small tree or shrub native to our southern coastal plain, the buckeye here at the museum was planted.

Red buckeye, a small understory tree or shrub ready to pop open its red tubular flowers.

Stay tuned, there’s more to come.

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