The snow has melted, the sun is peeking out, birds are chirping, and flowers are blossoming. Spring has reached the Black Hills. Spearfish is recognized for the mass number of wildflowers and trees that grow naturally in the area. The best time to start gardening or to catch the flora budding and blooming in the Spearfish is at the beginning of May. Some of my favorites in the Black Hills are forget-me-nots, lady slippers and the pasque flower. If you are talking about trees, the Black Hills spruce, Ponderosa pine and birch are eye-catchers. With the days getting longer and the temperatures climbing, I was craving some Vitamin-D and a good hike, so I made my way to Spearfish Canyon to see if I could catch a glimpse of any new sprouts or buds.
While crossing Spearfish Creek and adventuring through the Black Hills National Forest – Spearfish’s “backyard” - I came across an awesome cluster of forget-me-nots. These petite flowers grow on a delicate fuzzy stem that can grow up to two feet. A five-petal flower that is either baby blue, or sometimes periwinkle, boasts a bright yellow center sure to catch your eye. Forget-me-nots are equivalent to the size of a nickel and can be found throughout the Black Hills.
One of my favorite parts of the Orchid family, and a stunning flower in the Black Hills, is the lady slipper. This flower is named after its appearance that it is opening into a “lady’s slipper” and signifies beauty. This flower has an ombre effect with colors varying from a white to pink or purple and with a hint of yellow at the center. In some rare occasions, this flower can fade from a dark maroon into a yellow. The petals can expand to three inches long. It is a curiously leafless flower with a sweet aroma.
And then there is the pasque flower - known for introducing the beginning of the Easter period during the spring. This flower grows a maximum of one-and-a-half feet tall on top of a furry, green steam. The petals are a deep purple with a pom-pom like yellow center. This flower is significant to South Dakota because it is our state flower.
Black Hills Spruce & Ponderosa Pine
While scanning the ground and crevices in the rocks for flowers, I cannot overlook the towering trees above and around me. Black Hills Spruce are abundant to the area. You will see them throughout Spearfish Canyon, as well as throughout the residential neighborhoods and green spaces in town. This Christmas-like tree can grow up to sixty feet tall and has a potential lifespan of three hundred years. It is an evergreen with cones and can take years to fully develop. This spruce tree forms a pyramid-like structure with branches that hang laterally from the ground. Besides the Black Hills Spruce, Ponderosa Pine are abundant in the area. The sweet aroma of pine is part of the great experience of hiking in the Black Hills.
Nothing completes an adventure through the Hills like being surrounded by birch trees along the way. A birch tree is known for its hardwood and unique exterior that is a mix of white and grey and has accents of black with delicate, thin leaves. The white bark comes from the parts of the tree that reflect the sun, while the darker areas are the spots that absorbs the sun. This tree grows one-and-a-half feet each year and stands as high as forty feet tall.
With my senses full and finding myself surrounded by the new plant life that comes with the changing of the season, I encourage you to get out and find your own adventure beyond the hills – spring is sprung!
Some photos in blog courtesy of Traci Young