Another spring ephemeral wildflower that blooms very early in the spring is harbinger-of-spring or pepper-and-salt (Erigenia bulbosa). This flower is in the Apiaceae or carrot family. This tiny species is hard to see against the greens and browns of the forest floor.

These plants are only a few inches tall! (Erigenia bulbosa, Apiaceae)

The Apiaceae family includes many important food and spice species, such as carrot, celery, parsnip, parsley, cumin, dill and fennel. Members of this family often smell like carrots or parsley when you crush the leaves. The leaves are usually highly dissected (fern-like) and the flowers are usually white or yellow and held in clusters (called an umbel, like the shape of a Menorah).

The name ‘pepper-and-salt’ comes from the white petals and dark reproductive parts (Erigenia bulbosa, Apiaceae)

I have only found Erigenia bulbosa in Michigan. It is actually endangered in New York (NY Dept of Environmental Conservation Rare Plant List). People consider it edible but due to its small size and rarity, I would not eat it. The Apiaceae family is a dangerous family to eat as it includes toxic species, such as hemlock and water hemlock. I do not eat anything from this family as identification can be difficult.

Clustered flowers are common in Apiaceae (Erigenia bulbosa, Apiaceae)

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