Pinkham’s Palette Coloring In

I just got back from scouting for flowering plants along the trails near Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. The area has been greening up nicely in the last week; shrubs and deciduous trees are leafing out and understory plants are emerging through layers of decaying leaves, moss, and moist soil across the forest floor.

I was in search of our Mountain Watch plants, 6 forest species we picked for their easily distinguished features, and generally early season, blooms. The program has a citizen science component that anyone can participate in, documenting the bloom times of our target plants along favorite hiking trails (download materials here). The data will be used in an effort to understand climate change, and the impacts to forests, in the mountains.

At Pinkham Notch I found our target plants in varying stages of development from barely emerging from the ground with no flower buds yet (Blue Bead Lily), beginning to flower (Hobblebush). We have been enjoying Red Trillium (a new target plant) for more than a week in the notch but I just caught sight of Painted Trillium (white with a pink center), a species we have been tracking for 3 years running. I saw lots of this delightful flower along the first stretch of Old Jackson Road, which takes you from Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to Lowe’s Bald spot and is a nice hike with kids. Many just had their flower buds peaking out and some were in "flower", which we define as when they are open enough for a pollinator to access the pollen.

I also found Trout Lily (also known as Dogtooth Violet) in bloom along the Tuckerman Ravine trail, near the Huntington Ravine trail intersection. While a number of these plants were in flower many were still in bud so likely a good show for this weekend (I also saw a small patch along the Old Jackson Road trail). It received its name from the speckled pattern on the leaves resembling the spectacled coloring of native trout. This plant was not included in our original "northern" forest flower species as it less common in this neck of the woods, but we have included it, along with Red Trillium and others, in our new "southern" species guide (download it here). The northern and southern target species were split into groups based on how common they are in the mountains of the northeast to the lower mid-atlantic region but there is overlap and we welcome monitoring reports of all these plants from any mountain trail they are found!

If you want to help us while learning about some great flowering gems check out the web site or email us at

Georgia Murray- AMC Staff Scientist and Mountain Watch Team member

Photos: AMC Staff

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