With the first few weeks of spring upon us the trails and wooded pathways already show signs of new growth and early blooms. Among the earliest wildflowers to blossom are Grape Hyacinths, known for their colorful, unique flowers and sweet scent.
While not true Hyacinths, the common name refers to the plants dense clustered inflorescence of urn-shaped flowers resembling an upside-down bunch of grapes. Its scientific name Muscari contains over 40 similar types of species and comes from the Greek word muscus meaning musk in reference to the flowers aroma. While originating in the Old World, Grape Hyacinths were originally native to southern Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia until naturalizing throughout large portions of the United States.
Starting from small fleshy little bulbs, Grape Hyacinths bloom between March and April, growing 6 to 8 inches tall before going dormant in the summer and growing new leaves in autumn. A popular container plant, these easily grown wildflowers thrive with little care in full sun or part shade. The edges of Floyds Fork provide the perfect habitat for Grape Hyacinths to flourish and spread, particularly the trails within feet of water where well drained, sandy soils exist.Story and photo by Nathan Strange, Zone Gardener Nathan joined The Parklands staff in 2014 as a Gardener and currently oversees the areas around the Egg Lawn, the Pollination Garden at PNC Achievement Center/Gheens Foundation Lodge, and manages the collection and propagation of native plants within the park. While attending University of Kentucky for a degree in Natural Resource Conservation & Management, Nathan worked as a naturalist at Natural Bridge State Resort Park and as a field technician for Floracliff Nature Sanctuary – specializing in program development, native plant alternatives, and invasive species removal. In 2011, Nathan published “A Guide to the Knobstone Trail: Indiana’s Longest Footpath” with Indiana University Press – representing three years of independent research while highlighting his love for hiking and the outdoors.