A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife
A harbinger of spring, this plant sends its shoots up through the snow. It's native to Europe and is a late winter bloomer that comes up even before crocuses. As a spring ephemeral plant, the life cycle of this plant perfectly exploits the deciduous woodland canopy as it flowers at the time when maximum sunlight reaches the forest floor, after which it completely dies back.
It features cup-shaped, upward-facing, bright yellow, flowers on stalks. Each flower has a collar of leaf-like bracts. Lobed, basal, green leaves emerge after the flowers.
I spotted a good size patch of these flowers in a mostly deciduous forest with lots of oak, maple, birch, and hemlock. They were growing along the side of a river where recent snow melt (2 feet of snow covered this ground a couple weeks before) has turned the forest floor into a muddy, leafy mess.
All parts of this plant are poisonous for humans and other mammals because it contains cardiac glycosides, which may cause serious, often irreparable heart damage.