Six of twenty-one species of Synthyris are native to Oregon, though some are uncommon to rare; in fact Synthyris reniformis is the only commonly familiar species in Oregon.

It may be a little misleading to make it the January plant pick, but it is one of the very first flowers to appear in the native shade garden, in mild winters yes, as early as January! Okay, though it more usually appears during the late-February through April start on the season, it is still one of the earliest flowers to appear and what gives it its common names of Spring Queen and Snow Queen.

synthyris reniformis - Spring Queen, Snow Queen

Synthyris reniformis: Spring Queen, Snow Queen

First named by Lewis and Clark near what is today Cascade Locks, S.reniformis the most widespread and commonly found Synthyris in Oregon, and is really the only one commonly available in nurseries. It makes its home in woodland settings at low elevations.

Its diminutive size and liking for wooded, duff-covered settings makes it somewhat invisible; but look closely in the late winter /early spring and you will be rewarded with the view of the persistent delicacy of the perennial Spring Queen’s lovely little blue-to-blue-violet flowers in the otherwise quiet wasteland of the winter garden, a true herald of spring!

And, as one of the first to bloom in spring, it is also a valuable nectar source for the earliest of the season’s garden pollinators, an added plus….Spring is just around the corner!