Ephemeral, wildfower or perennial?

North Fork, CA(Zone 7b)

Is there a difference between perennial wildflowers and spring ephemerals?

I call my native existing (before me) flowers that appear every spring, ephemerals, like rose globe lily and shooting stars, blue dicks and Pretty Face. but are they also considered perennial wildflowers?

Are they the same thing? I call mullein, yarrow and blue eyed grass perennials because most of the plant is still there in winter. The others completely disappear.

Thanks so much. Sue

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

As you noted, some plants are present only in the spring, while others are present much of the year, and others still persist year around. A perennial is any plant that produces growth year to year from the same root system. The period of time it is visable above ground during the year is irrelevant. Those that are visable in just the spring are called sring ephemerals. Just because a plant persists over the winter does not make it a perennial. Many hardy annuals begin life in the summer or fall, remain alive through the winter and bloom the following spring or summer, Then they die, having lived out their life in the span of a year's time, whether that year starts on January 1st or September 15th.

North Fork, CA(Zone 7b)

Thank you so much for your reply! So would you say that the term ephemeral is not necessarily a technical term, just describes spring flowers?

Thanks! Sue

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Ephemerals (in this context) are plants that bloom and then quickly dissappear for the rest of the year. Spring ephemerals are such plants that briefly run on stage in the spring. Not all spring blooming plants display this pattern.

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