Look, don’t pick the beautiful Pacific trillium | Photo submitted by City of Arcata

On this first day of spring, you might be ready to emerge from your winter hibernation and get some fresh air and exercise on our many local trails. While hiking this season, you will likely see one of our local spring wildflowers the Pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum) — a white, three petaled flower that is usually found growing on the forest floor. 

As much as you may be compelled to pick these beautiful flowers, the City of Arcata would like to remind you: please don’t! Picking trillium flowers or leaves can seriously injure the plant and even prevent it from growing the next year.  Of course, in general, you should probably always operate under the “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” concept while enjoying nature.

More from the City of Arcata Environmental Services Department:

Spring is here, and the Environmental Services Department would like to offer some tips for community members on how to harmlessly appreciate the beauty of native wildflowers growing in Arcata’s natural spaces.

When visiting the Arcata Community Forest, one of the first promising signs that winter is passing is coming across the beautiful white clusters of Pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum). These simple, elegant flowers are ephemeral bloomers, which means they flower for a short period of time and go dormant until the next year. While Pacific trillium are beautiful, they are also fragile. Touching or picking trillium can injure or even kill this native wildflower, so it is important that community members appreciate their beauty from a distance.

Picking these wildflowers have harmful impacts that can damage the plant so it is unable to regrow in the future. Picking trillium also negatively impacts insects and animals who rely on the flower for food or protective cover. In order to ensure trillium blooms in the Arcata Community Forest for generations to come, the Environmental Services Department has a few tips for flower lovers on how to appreciate wildflowers without harming the plants:

● Take photos. A photo can last a lifetime, and it is a great way to appreciate floral beauty without touching the plant.

● Make some art. Sketching, drawing, painting, or even felting a native flower is a fun way to get creative and keep a piece of nature inside your home.

● Download a nature app. Apps such as Inaturalist or Picture allow users to identify and share photos of the plants in the wild.

● Plant a native plant garden. Planting native flora is a great way to keep nature close to home, and native plant gardens benefit native insects, birds and mammals. Not only are native gardens good for the environment, but once established they are often lower maintenance than ornamental gardens, as they are well equipped for the local climate. Please be sure to only buy native plants from reputable nurseries and never remove the plants from the wild.

The Environmental Services Department encourages all community members to get outside and take a safe stroll through the Arcata Community Forest to admire the trillium while they are in bloom. For more information, email eservices@cityofarcata.org or call (707) 822-8184.