Mike Ezell

As the spring season comes upon us, we all have a tendency to gaze upwards at the warming skies of the season. We are weary of the dark, gray skies of winter, and ache for brilliant sunshine to warm our spirits and bones from the long dark nights and icy chills we have tolerated for one more year on planet Earth.

As you emerge from your semi-hibernation in your house and explore the outdoors with your friends and family, please remember to look down.

Here you will find a brilliant world of flowers of all sizes from plants emerging from their winter slumber. We call these plants Spring Ephemerals, which means “of short duration”. These are some of the most beautiful visual sights Nature has to offer.

These Ephemerals live most of the year underground, as bulbs, rhizomes (underground stems), or tubers, all of these being underground warehouses of energy stashed away during last year’s spring season. Some of these subterranean organisms are hundreds of years old, appearing above ground for only a short time this season and disappearing each and every summer when the tree canopy above closes off the brilliant sunshine.

Opportunity is the key. These plants take advantage of the larger trees sluggishness in opening their great collections of leaves. For a few short weeks, this carpet of the forest rakes in bright sunlight and carbon dioxide at a furious rate, storing up the energy for its hidden parts to survive all year, reproduce, and make the push to the sky for the next spring. Matching insects, bees and butterflies move in for these flowers sweet nectar and unknowingly disperse pollen from plant to plant and insure future generations of these beautiful flowers for us to enjoy.

Opportunity is also the key for us. Get outside before the shade of the large trees appear, walk the forests and look down, enjoy but please don’t trample this lovely carpet of some of the most beautiful flowers we share the Earth with. Bluebells, Spring beauty, Bloodroot, Bellwort, May apple, Hepatica, Rue Anemone, and Trillium are just a few.

Watch as these plants ignite the fires of life into the forest and welcome the bees, butterflies, insects, birds, trees, mammals, and humans to a new, fresh Alabama summer.

These few weeks in the calendar will provide excellent opportunities to get out and explore your 22 State Parks of Alabama. Pack up the family and explore the rebirth of the lands and waters that surround us. We offer a playground of over 48,000 acres both above and below ground to learn, explore, and replenish your soul after the chill of winter. Please remember to LEAVE NO TRACE and leave flowers, critters, and forests just as you found them so that others may enjoy. Memories are waiting to be made.

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