Skip to main content
Go to the Homepage

Punxsutawney Phil predicts spring will come early this year. As much fun as it is to trust the behavior of a charismatic groundhog, I also love searching for my own signs of spring a little closer to home.

Wildflowers are one of the earliest sentinels of spring I look for along every trail I walk this time of year. Bright orange, red, yellow, and purple flowers abound in sunny meadows as spring arrives, but in the coast redwood forest the flowers can be quite hidden from sight.

Fetid Adder's Tongue is an early blooming wildflower in the coast redwood forest.
Fetid Adder’s Tongue is an early blooming wildflower in the coast redwood forest.

Fetid Adder’s Tongue is one of these cryptic beauties and blooms early in the shady redwood understory. This lily’s broad green leaves are mottled with dark spots that look like oil stains that drape on the forest floor. Its flower is white with dark purple or brown stripes that camouflage the bloom and make it difficult to spot from a distance. The name Fetid Adder’s Tongue comes from the putrid odor of the flower, likely produced by the plant to attract pollinating flies or gnats.  After pollination, the bloom fades and this transient sign of spring disappears.

Have you seen or smelled Fetid Adder’s Tongue in the woods yet? Tell us where you find them!


Tags: , ,


About Emily Burns

Emily joined Save the Redwoods League as the Director of Science in 2010 after studying redwood forest ecology for seven years.


Share this Article


You helped us protect the Noyo River Redwoods. Photo by Julie Martin The Fight to Save the Redwoods: Then and Now

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has been fighting to fund redwoods protection all the while the funding for land conservation in California has continued to change. More recently, between 2002 and 2006, the voters of California approved bond measures to … Continued


The League will own, steward and manage Shady Dell for the foreseeable future until we can transfer it to a permanent steward. The Tasks Ahead

“To some it might appear that, having accomplished what will be considered one of the greatest pieces of conservation work in America, the Redwoods League might not have a place of as great importance in the future as that occupied … Continued


Leave a Reply