While the first wildflowers of spring are lingering above treeline, the lower slopes and valleys of the White Mountains have lost the first blooms of spring and are transitioning toward the fruitful days of summer. Common mountain wildflowers and woody shrubs such as Bluebead Lilly, Trout Lilies, Painted and Red Trilliums, Hobblebush, and Rose Twisted Stalk are past bloom below 2500 feet and going to seed.
Meanwhile, flowers such as Canada Mayflower, Maianthemum canadense, with its sweet smelling white flowers; Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, and its Dogwood-like flowers; and Pink Lady's Slipper remain to bring color to the mountain woods. Here in the White Mountains, many of our Pink Lady's Slippers are in fact white! This is a genetic variation of the Pink Lady Slipper, Cypripedium acaule, and adds a lovely contrast to the pink flowers. Twin Flower, Linnaea borealis, is starting to bloom here and there in sunny nooks within the woods and woodland edges.
Up high, on summits and exposed ledges, the small pinkish flowers of Mountain Cranberry, Vaccinium cespitosum, are in full bloom right now, adding a splash of pink to the lichen covered bedrock surfaces. The puffy white flower clusters of Labrador Tea, Rhododendron groenlandicum, can also be seen now in the same environments as Mountain Cranberry, as both plants are well adapted to the thin, nutrient poor soils of summits and ledges.
Finally, up in the alpine areas of the Presidential Range, a few new wildflowers are emerging while in other areas the first wildflowers have transitioned to seed formation. Mountain Heath, Phyllodoce caerulea, a rare plant, was in bloom as of a few days ago for the first time alongside a few boulder nooks on the uppermost Huntington Ravine Trail. Higher up it should be emerging soon in other sporadic locations. In the Alpine Garden, Alpine Bluets, Hedyotis caerula, are adding their honey scented flowers to the mix as well. There's lots to see at all elevations of the mountains right now. Whether a plant is in flower or seed just depends on your elevation and location, location, location!
You can also help AMC monitor alpine plants by joining Mountain Watch!