BLANCHARD, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Northwest chapter of Louisiana Master Naturalists shared an introduction to local wildflowers as part of its 2023 workshop series.
Northwest Louisiana Naturalist John Michael Kelley teaches classes on trees, and shrubs for several groups. His workshops help newcomers build skills and overcome the difficulty of using books so they can learn to identify flowers and plants themselves. Kelley hopes that the classes will help people fall in love with botany.
The Naturalists offer numerous opportunities to sharpen their skills in natural habitats in Louisiana. To become a Master Naturalist, participants must go through a training program on aspects of the ecosystem and contribute to expanding the knowledge base in Louisiana’s natural history.
Master Naturalist for Northwest Louisiana Anne Lutz says the organization offers one to two monthly classes.
“We always do a wildflower class, and there’s a part I, which we did today. And then we’ll have a part II that is in the fall because the flowers will be dramatically different at that time.”
If you want to become a Master Naturalist, contact Larry Raymond at email@example.com.
Some of the flowers you’ll find in Northwest Louisiana include:
Some of the flowers you’ll find in Northeast Texas include:
Heavy rainfall and unseasonably warm temperatures brought an early start to the bluebonnet season this year, according to Texas Highways. Coreopsis and pink evening primrose started to bloom in early March. Mid-spring will bring golden groundsel, southern dewberry and dramatic violet giant spiderwort blooms to East Texas.
Some of the flowers you’ll find in Southwest Arkansas include:
Looking for a place to view or photograph wildflowers in bloom? Try some of these areas in the ArkLaTex:
- Kirioli Park in West Monroe features 150 acres of natural scenery. The nature trails take visitors through numerous gardens on the grounds. Visitors can enjoy several playgrounds, a conservatory, picnic areas, fishing ponds and more. Admission is $1 per person.
- Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park is located near Blanchard, La. It covers 160 acres of pine-oak-hickory forest with five miles of nature trails and includes a variety of native wildflowers.
- In June a nearly 20-mile trail in Gilliam, La. fills with sunflowers. The city holds a sunflower festival each year with vendors offering food, crafts and art for sale by local vendors. Local music groups perform, and there is a festival photography contest.
- The previous home of botanist Caroline Dormon, the Briarwood Nature Preserve in Saline, La. is dedicated to preserving indigenous plant life in the area. The preserve contains the most historical collection of Louisiana irises. Tours highlight the importance of wildflowers and their contribution to the ecosystem.
- Thousands of wildflowers bloom on Highways 49, 155 and 11 between Avinger, Hughes Springs and Linden, Texas in late April. The Wildflower Trails of Texas Festival celebrates the blooming of the wildflowers on April 28-29. The area often sports Spiderwort, Phlox, Milkweed, Bluebonnets and Mexican Hat.
- Take a boat or canoe to Caddo Lake State Park to check out the Bladderwort, Water Lillies and American Lotus blooming around the park.
- Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas is home to the 42-acre Pineywoods Native Plant Center. Its Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Demonstration Garden contains a variety of rare and endangered native plants such as Neches River Rosemallow and Texas Trailing Phlox.
- Another great scenic drive in East Texas is typically blanketed in wildflowers. Take FM227 and State Highway 21 between Alto and Nacogdoches to catch a glimpse of Dogwoods, Redbuds and Yellow Jessamine.
- The Arkansas Oak Natural Area covers 200 acres near Bluff City. It hosts a number of plant species considered to be rare in Arkansas. Seeps in the area contain diverse flora.
- Miller County Sandhills Natural Area is one of the few remaining places with relatively undisturbed sandhill vegetation in Southwest Arkansas. The sandy soil deposited along the ancient Gulf of Mexico supports distinctive flora seen in similar sites in East Texas.
- The Saratoga Blackland Prairie Natural Area in Howard County is dominated by tall native grasses and vibrant wildflowers. While the absence of fire for decades has encouraged encroaching woody plants like Eastern red cedar, conservation efforts are underway to restore prairie openings.
- Another natural area in Howard County is the Stone Road Glade Natural Area. It is known for its diverse assemblage of wildflowers throughout the growing season.
- Pale purple coneflowers, plains larkspur, showy beardtongue, and other wildflowers bloom in the White Cliffs Natural Area in Little River County. The park includes a 100 ft. high chalk bluff over the Little River.
- The Cossatot River State Park Natural Area Wildflower Walk is painted with splashes of color from local wildflowers. The state park, located in Howard and Polk Counties, offers offer scenic views of the river and is home to a diversity of Ouachita Mountain flora.
According to PBS, climate change will throw off the timing for spring wildflowers in the future. Their research group evaluated over 3,000 plant specimens to study how early leafing in trees affects spring wildflowers. They found that warmer temperatures are causing trees to leaf out earlier in the season, leaving native wildflowers with less sun.
“As spring temperatures warm even further with climate change, we expect wildflowers will have even shorter periods of full sunlight. This can mean a sizable decrease in the flowers’ energy supply and ability to survive, grow and reproduce.”