Upland forests, says the Illinois State Museum, grow where soil drainage prevents the ground from becoming saturated for long periods. Upland forests have dense canopies, between 80 and 100 percent closed. Flowering plants adapted to upland forest floors must bloom early in the spring when they still receive light before the trees' leaves appear. Non-blooming upland forest plants include mosses, grasses and lichens.
Perennial bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis), like most members of the poppy family, has short-lived flowers that open on bright days and close at night. One plant has several stems, each with a single leaf enclosing a flower bud. The orange-centered white blooms sometimes open while the leaves are still slightly closed.
Appearing in March and April, flowers stand between 6 and 10 inches high. Leaves eventually reach a height of 12 inches. Bloodroot likes partly shady to shady spots with moist soil high in humus. Home gardeners can plant it immediately from seeds collected after the flowers have died, or from root divisions. Don't let the seeds dry out before planting.
Plants grow easily from seed and benefit from leaf mulch over the winter. Spread rapidly, they are an excellent shade groundcover. Bloodroot's rhizomes are poisonous if ingested. Always handle them with gloves and wash your hands immediately after working with them.
Yellow Trout Lily
Also called dogtoothed violet, yellow trout lily (erythronium americanum) produces a single bronze yellow-throated flower. Its maroon-splotched leaves resemble brown trout markings. Plants seldom stand more than 10 inches high, but colonize readily to create masses of woodland bloom from March to May.
Yellow trout lilies appreciate partly shady growing conditions with damp acidic soil and leafy winter mulch. When plants produce more leaves and fewer flowers, thin them by clump division. Dig up the clumps at summer's end, separating the small bulblets. Plant them 3 inches deep and cover with thick mulch. Plants grown from bulbs, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, bloom much more quickly than those started from seed.
Spring beauty (claytonia virginica) and Carolina spring beauty (claytonia caroliniana) produce stunning displays of pink-striped white flower clusters on 12-inch stems between January and May, depending on its geographical region. The largest colonies of Carolina spring beauty occur from the mountain upland forests of the eastern United States to Minnesota.
Both Native Americans and early settlers enjoyed the delicate sweet taste of roasted spring beauty tubers. Like other upland forest bloomer, spring beauty appreciates a partly shady location with damp acidic soil rich in humus. Plant's beauty spreads rapidly in the right conditions. Propagate plants from freshly collected seeds planted in early summer or commercially available corms.