Please do not pluck!

March 26, 2022

Every March the birds sing their tunes of spring’s return, and the sun lingers a little longer in the evening sky. Come this time of year I’m always ready to feel the warmth on my skin and take deep breaths of spring air after the winter’s “hunkered down” state. New life bursts forth with vigor, and it seems like overnight the land’s color palate becomes vibrant with flowers and plants now active and lively after a dormant season of rest.  

In my delight of the seasonal shift, I find it tempting to veer off the trail during hikes for a closer look at the newly sprouted wildflowers. Once up close it’s even more tempting to pick the colorful blooms for a mason jar on my windowsill for prolonged and convenient admiration. However, while appearing abundant, many flowers and plants are rare and ecologically significant to the area, and the innocent act of picking can have lasting repercussions for the ecosystem. 

A critical chain of events is triggered when wildflowers are lost. We often don’t realize the beautiful flowers support entire ecosystems for pollinators, birds, and insects. Animals depend on seeds, nectar, and pollen from wildflowers for sustenance, and picking them can disrupt the native flora’s ability to flourish. The plants and flowers provide food and nesting material for many species that themselves provide food for predators. By collecting wildflowers, we diminish current food supply and habitat, and the opportunity for the flowers to reproduce ensuring future food supplies is lost. 

Wildflowers are meant to be enjoyed and admired, not taken. That they often wilt and perish shortly after being picked may be signaling to let them be. Our natural world is resilient and capable of thriving if we are responsible and refrain from interfering. Let’s relish the beauty of nature and celebrate the seasonal offerings, but recognize the greater benefit is not to us and our flower vases.  

Wildflower season can come and go quickly! Instead of picking, here are some other ways to appreciate these beautiful blooms:  
– Plan a hike with friends to experience the flowers together! 
– Register for the Conservancy’s Spring on the Rim Celebration Wildflower Hike!
– Take pictures to use as a phone background or send to friends
– Download apps such as PlantSnap so you can ID the flowers you see on hikes 
– Sketch the flowers or journal about your wildflower hikes