May Apples and Blue Bells


Mid to late April the canal is a carpet of wildflowers and a sight to behold! The mayapples above are common throughout the eastern US and especially so along the canal.  They don't usually flower until May and even then only the plants with two leaves (the stem is split) have flowers.  Check the charts below for other common wildflowers you might see.

Native Species
The Virginia Blue Bells look great when in bloom. They usually grow in stands, sometimes large ones that carpet an area of several square feet.  It likes moist woods with rich soil.  They are often found alongside mayapples.
Wood Anemones can be found covering large areas in the early spring, especially in clearings and alongside the towpath.  They are members of the Buttercup family.
Sheesh, what a pansy! Well, in this case it's actually a Common Blue Violet.  The distinctive 2 petals on top and three on the bottom arrangement makes it easy to identify.
These Dutchman's Breeches are named for the distinctive shape of the flower.  Imagine the traditional baggy pants worn by the Dutch turned upside down and you have a rough description of the shape of the flower.
This Wild Columbine is a another member of the buttercup family, noted for its striking appearance.  For a full description, see

Introduced Species

Grape Hyacinths are remarkable for their unusual shape.  They are home to canal fairies which provide "trail magic" to passing hikers.  Really!

You can always tell members of the Mint family of flowers by their square stem.  This Purple Dead Nettle is an introduced species.

The Maryland DNR lists the Nodding Star of Bethlehem as an invasive exotic plant that threatens native species.  I think they're great looking flowers.  Let the strong survive!

Many thanks to Kathy Bilton for identifying these!