Spring is a wonderful time to be at Meadowcroft. So far this year, we have observed a variety of nesting birds: ravens, bluebirds, red-shouldered hawks, and red-tailed hawks. We have been amused by red fox kits wrestling and wandering further and further from the den. We have been amazed by the discipline and persistence of the beaver trying to dam up a drainage culvert. And, we have marveled at bald eagles soaring above the museum. The animal kingdom is a busy realm.
There is another busy kingdom at Meadowcroft. Perhaps it is not as visibly active as its animal counterpart, but it is no less splendid. On a recent walk through the woods, I enjoyed seeing a variety of plants and spring ephemerals which add interest and color to the waking forest floor.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are an early spring wildflower which, as the name suggests, has beautiful blue, bell-shaped flowers which emerge from a pink bud. This flower is native to Pennsylvania and most of the eastern United States.
This unmistakable umbrella-like plant is the Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), also a Pennsylvania native plant. It will soon have a single white flower underneath the leaves which will produce a small round fruit.
Quaker Ladies, or Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) are a small, delicate flower only 3 to 6 inches tall. They are adorned with pale blue petals with yellow at the center.
The Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) is another interesting early spring native plant with its green and brown mottled leaves and beautiful, elongated yellow flower.
The Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) has heart-shaped leaves and five petaled, purple flowers with a white center. These pretty wildflowers are also native to Pennsylvania.
Each season has its glory, but I think my favorite time at Meadowcroft is springtime.
David Scofield is the director of Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village.