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17 Types of Wildflowers Found in Vermont

Vermont is known for its vibrant fall leaves, but did you know that this northeastern state is home to a bounty of wildflowers too? This state has many species of wildflowers that add pizazz to forests and meadows alike. Whether it’s the state flower red clover or the rare mountain-blooming Labrador tea, you can’t go wrong looking for wildflowers in Vermont. 

Keep reading to learn about the beautiful and colorful wildflowers in Vermont and their other characteristics. 

17 Wildflowers in Vermont 

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is the state flower of Vermont. It has a bright pink flower with many petals that appear in a spherical shape in a habit close to the ground.  

It was introduced as the state flower back in 1895. Even though red clover is diminutive and relatively common, it was well-loved by the farmers who called Vermont home. It indicates plentiful rains, and fertile soil, and provides pollen for honeybees. 

Vermont is a great place to look for wildflowers. Flowers here bloom throughout the growing season so you’ll never be without some wild flora to decorate your backyard or kitchen table. 

1. Tall Meadow Rue  

Tall meadow rue
Tall meadow rue | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Thalictrum dasycarpum
  • Zone: 4 to 7 
  • Where to see: Meadows, statewide
  • Bloom in:  Summer 

If you’re outside in open meadows and hillsides, chances are you’ll spot a stand of tall meadow rue. This shrub can grow very tall – up to 6 feet! Its flowers resemble puffballs of white. They’re spindly and situated on thin, light green stems.

Be careful when walking past bushes of tall meadow rue. Ticks do enjoy hanging out in these flowers.  

2. Great Angelica

Great angelica
Great angelica | image by Doug McGrady via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Angelica atropurpurea
  • Zone: 4 to 9 
  • Where to see: Meadows & Disturbed Areas 
  • Bloom in: Late June / Early July

The Great angelica looks similar to Queen Anne’s lace, but with two major differences. First off, great angelica has a starburst shape to its blooms, not a flat plate-like display. Next, it is light green, not white.

Its herbaceous branches harden into woody stems and it can grow over 6 feet tall. Spot it on edges of marshes and forests. It prefers very moist soils. 

3. Cow Parsnip

American cow parsnip
American cow parsnip | image by Joshua Mayer via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Heracleum lanatum
  • Zone: 3 to 9 
  • Where to see: Northern Vermont, on Roadsides 
  • Bloom in: Spring and Summer 

Cow parsnip, also known as Indian celery, has been used by people for hundreds of years. A juvenile plant’s peeled stems are edible, but they look so much like the invasive giant hogweed (which has toxic sap) that eating them is not recommended unless you’re an expert.

Tell cow parsnip apart from great angelica by its flower color – white – and the shape of its blooms. They are more like dinner plates than starbursts. 

4. Canada Lily

Canada lily flower
Canada lily flower | image by Silk666 via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific name: Lilium canadense 
  • Zone: 3 to 9 
  • Where to see: Open meadows and floodplains
  • Bloom in: Mid/Late Summer 

Despite its name, the Canada lily is native to the state of Vermont. It’s similar to a typical lily, however, the way that its flowers are situated on the plant can surprise some observers. Instead of facing up, the Canada lily’s flowers dangle downwards from stalks!

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This makes it harder to see the flower, but easier for pollinators to brush up against pollen. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are some of their most common visitors. 

5. Common Milkweed 

Common milkweed flowers
Common milkweed flowers | image by Lydia Fravel via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Asclepias syriaca 
  • Zone: 3 to 9 
  • Where to see: Statewide 
  • Bloom in: Mid/Late Summer 

The Common milkweed may have a boring name, but it fulfills a crucial ecological role in Vermont’s forest and meadow ecosystems. It has even been used for war preparations and as food. 

First, common milkweed is a food source for butterflies. It’s also crucial for monarch butterflies, which have adapted to use only the common milkweed plant as a home for their offspring. Caterpillars eat the leaves of this flower, create their chrysalises on it, and hover around it before migrating south to Mexico. 

6. Labrador Tea

Bog labrador tea
Bog labrador tea | image by peupleloup via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Ledum groenlandicum
  • Zone: 2 to 6 
  • Where to see: Alpine Meadows, Mount Mansfield 
  • Bloom in: Late Spring, Early Summer 

The Labrador tea flower is an alpine species that lives only in high elevations. In Vermont, it grows on Mt. Mansfield, a mountain ridge in the north-central part of the state.

Backyard gardeners may note that the white blooms are similar to those of domestic blueberries. That’s no coincidence: Labrador tea and blueberries are related. 

Populations aren’t limited to only Vermont, however. The flower’s range extends as far north as Greenland and as far west as Alaska. Vermont is simply its easternmost range. 

7. Herb Robert 

Herb robert flowers
Herb robert flowers | image by Dean Morley via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific name: Geranium robertianum
  • Zone: 5 to 9 
  • Where to see: Statewide  
  • Bloom in: Spring through Fall  

Herb Robert has light pink flowers that bloom throughout the entire growing season. It’s a good choice to plant near your vegetable or flower garden because it isn’t very palatable to herbivores like rabbits and deer. Crushing the leaves releases a pungent and unpleasant smell that repels mosquitos

8. Wild Columbine 

Eastern red columbine
Eastern columbine | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Aquilegia canadensis 
  • Zone: 3 to 9 
  • Where to see: Open areas, rocky hillsides, and meadows 
  • Bloom in: Spring / Summer 

Hummingbirds love wild columbine. The ruby-throated hummingbird, which is the only hummingbird native to the eastern coast of the United States, will spend hours flitting between flowers to drink delicious nectar from these flowers. The face of the flower points downward to allow the birds to hover below, tilt their beaks up, and sip. 

Wild columbine is a fantastic plant to add to your backyard garden. Plant it next to a hummingbird feeder and entice even more birds to visit your yard. 

9. Spring Beauty

Carolina spring beauty
Carolina spring beauty | image by Doug McGrady via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Claytonia caroliniana 
  • Zone: 5 to 9 
  • Where to see: Hardwood forests, near Trout Lilies  
  • Bloom in: Spring

The spring beauty is one of the first wildflowers to bloom each spring in Vermont. It has white petals streaked with pink lines and a green and white center. They are most common in southern Vermont.

What’s special about these flowers is they close and open depending on how sunny the day is. Plant scientists call this trait nyctinasty. 

10. Trout Lily

Yellow trout lily
Yellow trout lily | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Erythronium Americanum 
  • Zone: 3 to 9
  • Where to see: Hardwood forests 
  • Bloom in: May

The trout lily is known by a bounty of creative alternate names: try ‘adder’s tongue’ or ‘dog-toothed violet,’ for example. Its mottled leaves spotted with brown and green supposedly look like the scales on a trout.

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The yellow flowers the trout lily produces have six petals and large yellow stamens. They bloom at the base of trees in deciduous forests. 

11. Coltsfoot 

Coltsfoot flowers
Coltsfoot flowers | image by xulescu_g via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Tussilago farfara 
  • Zone: 4 to 8
  • Where to see: High-disturbance areas  
  • Bloom in: Early Spring

It looks like a dandelion, but it’s not! This doppelganger for the dandelion is actually a well-known medicinal wildflower. Coltsfoot has been used to treat fevers, asthma, and sore throats. 

Unlike other wildflowers native to Vermont, the non-native coltsfoot produces flowers first. The leaves emerge from the litter on the forest floor a few days after the flowers bloom. 

12. Marsh Marigold

Marsh marigold flower
Marsh marigold flower | Image by Annette Meyer from Pixabay
  • Scientific name: Caltha palustris 
  • Zone: 3 to 7
  • Where to see: Marshes and Streams 
  • Bloom in: Spring  

The Marsh marigold grows right where you’d expect it to: marshes and swamps. This water-loving wildflower produces bright yellow flowers with 5 petals and a bright yellow center. They can grow up to 2 feet tall!

It’s best to leave this plant wild because it can cause major skin irritation when handled.  

13. Purple Trillium 

Purple trillium flower
Purple trillium flower | image by Under the same moon… via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Trillium erectum
  • Zone: 4 to 9
  • Where to see: Shaded forests  
  • Bloom in: Spring and Summer 

The Purple trillium is a three-petaled wildflower also native to the woodlands of Vermont. It grows among the leaf litter, especially in shady areas where the upper forest canopy filters out most of the daylight.

They aren’t very popular as decorations, however, because of their unpleasant scent. Because purple trillium’s primary pollinators are flies, they give off a stench of rotting meat to attract them. 

14. Dutchman’s Breeches 

Dutchman’s breeches flowers
Dutchman’s breeches flowers | image by Andrew Cannizzaro via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Dicentra cucullaria 
  • Zone: 3 to 8
  • Where to see: Fertile woodlands  
  • Bloom in: Early Spring 

The Dutchman’s breeches are so named because of the shape of its flowers. Viewers centuries ago thought they looked like an upside-down pair of pants. The ‘pants’ bloom in a row as they hang from a central stem.

The ‘waist’ boats a yellow petal. You’ll probably spot them in early April on a walk through the woods. 

15. Trailing Arbutus 

Trailing arbutus flowers
Trailing arbutus flowers | image by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Epigaea repens
  • Zone: 3 to 7
  • Where to see: Mixed Forests & Acidic Soil 
  • Bloom in: Early Spring

This small wildflower is a tenacious plant. It grows in acidic soil and prefers exposed sites without a lot of leaf litter. The flowers are pinkish-white and smell pleasant in order to attract insects.

They have 5 petals and yellow centers. The leaves are disproportionately large compared to the size of the flowers. 

16. Blue Cohosh

Early blue cohosh
Early blue cohosh | image by R. A. Nonenmacher via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Scientific name: Caulophyllum giganteum 
  • Zone: 3 to 8
  • Where to see:  Open Woodlands, especially Champlain Valley
  • Bloom in: Early Spring  

Blue cohosh is anything but blue. Their purple and green leaves emerge first at the end of the winter. When the flowers bloom, they are maroon or brownish.

It’s only after the dark blue seeds mature that you’ll understand how this wildflower got its name. Look for it on the forest floor in open woodlands. 

17. Wild Ginger 

Wild ginger flower
Wild ginger flower | image by Andrew Cannizzaro via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Asarum canadense
  • Zone: 4 to 8 
  • Where to see: Forest floor 
  • Bloom in: Spring to Early Summer

Secretive and hidden in Vermont’s forests, the wild ginger plant has a noxious flower most people would rather stay away from. Flies look for it because its scent is like that of rotting flesh.

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Wild ginger plants form thick ground cover on the forest floor by growing close to each other. Their light green leaves are heart shaped. 

Places to Look for Wildflowers in Vermont

Vermont is a small state, so we have recommendations that span the breadth of the state since you can drive nearly anywhere in just a few hours. If you’d like to look for alpine flowers, visit Mt. Mansfield in the north-central part of the state. Green Mountain National Forest is in the southwest corner.

Don’t forget to look for water-loving marsh plants by Lake Winnipesaukee. You can find several state forests surrounding the lake.