Also called fawn lily and dog-tooth violet, Erythronium americanum forms low-growing colonies of brown-speckled foliage topped by yellow flowers with recurved petals. Emerging from underground corms, plants with twin leaves will flower; those with single leaves are sterile, though they should flower in subsequent years. A similar species, E. albidum has white flowers. Zones 3 to 9.
With bright-pink buds morphing into sky-blue tubular flowers dangling from 1- to 2-foot stems, Mertensia virginica is one of the showiest spring ephemerals. Often found along moist stream banks and wooded floodplains, Virginia bluebells can also occur on loamy upland sites. Though the plants have a substantial look, the show is brief, emerging in March and vanishing in May. Zones 3 to 8
DWARF CRESTED IRIS
A diminutive member of the iris family, only 4 to 6 inches tall, Iris cristata forms mats of slender interlocking rhizomes on the soil surface, often in limestone-rich habitats. As with many irises, this one requires good drainage. Dainty lavender flowers with a yellow beard emerge in April and last into May. Zones 4 to 8.
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Image sources: Trillium Erik Mattheis? SHOOTING STAR Forest Service? BLOODROOT Bill Stanley? DUTCHMAN’S BREECHES Jason Hollinger? WILD COLUMBINE Teresa Boardman? CELANDINE POPPY Jay Sturner? TROUT LILY Penny Higgins? VIRGINIA BLUEBELLS Buddha Dog? DWARF CRESTED IRIS Bobistraveling