Spring Wildflowers in the Valley

In the springtime, Cuyahoga Valley National Park looks as if it is a painted canvas, with its abundant field of flowers stroked with vibrant shades of color. In honor of National Wildflower Week, we have put together a list of five of our favorite native Ohio wildflowers and where you can find them in CVNP.

Remember: Wildflower picking in the national park is strictly prohibited. Take only pictures, and leave only footprints! 

1. Marsh Marigold

Also known as kingcups, marsh marigolds are cheerful yellow flowers with five vibrant petals. These plants have a unique method for spreading their seeds using a “splash cup.” When a raindrop strikes a flower, the seeds are expelled, thanks to the shapes of the petal walls. The seeds also sport a spongy tissue that allows them to float on water, so they can float through puddles or downstream until they reach a spot to grow.

Where to see in CVNP: On the Towpath Trail, especially from Hunt House to Botzum Trailhead, as well as Haskell Run Trail


2. Purple Cress 

Photo: Fritzflohrreynolds (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Purple cress (and a similar species, spring cress) can be found growing in the early spring in wetlands and woodlands. Compared with other spring plants, it’s one of the taller wildflowers you’ll see this month—about a foot tall. At first, the flowers droop like bells, then bloom and open as the season progresses. 

Where to see in CVNP: Brandywine Gorge TrailHaskell Run Trail, and on the Towpath Trail from Hunt House to Botzum Trailhead


3. Virginia Bluebell

Photo: Sue Simenc

These unmistakable wildflowers feature bright, bell-shaped, sky-blue flowers. When bluebell buds first form, they are pink, but when they start to bloom, the flowers change their red pigmentation to blue—a color much more likely to attract pollinators. 

Where to see in CVNP: In the Hunt House area, especially along Furnace Run Trail


4. Squirrel Corn

Photo: Fritzflohrreynolds (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A close relative of Dutchman’s Breeches, squirrel corn can be distinguished by its more heart-shaped flower (rather than the elongated shaped of breeches). It gets its name from its yellow underground tubers that resemble corn kernels. 

Where to see in CVNP: On the Towpath Trail from Station Road Bridge Trailhead to the Pinery Narrows, as well as Brandywine Gorge Trail


5. Spring Beauty 

Spring beauty is one of the most common native wildflowers in North America. It grows in many different habitats including woodlands, roadsides, wetlands, and ravines. 

Where to see in CVNP: Many places, including Brandywine Gorge TrailHaskell Run Trail, and on the Towpath Trail throughout the park. 


Find more ways to experience your national park on our Outdoor Adventures pages >