March is an especially beautiful time of year on Jekyll Island when it comes to blooming. The March flowers, from spreads of bright-colored azaleas to pinkish white Cherokee Roses, provide a cacophony of color.
Georgia adopted the Rosa Laevigata, also know as the Cherokee Rose, as the state flower in 1916. It is believed the Native America tribe of Cherokee distributed plant cuttings that originated in China. The Cherokee legend about about the rose says that the mothers cried at their forced removal from the their homelands. Then this beautiful rose grew where the tears fell. You can find the rose along the path called the Trail of Tears, the route the Cherokee followed from Georgia to Oklahoma.
On Jekyll, the rose grows along the wire fencing surrounding the Historic District. You can find an especially robust bush on the fence just in front of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. There are also Cherokee Roses around the Indian Mound and Mistletoe cottages. The flower has seven petals and a bright yellow center, with a bush that is quite thorny. Jekyll Sandpiper renters can also find examples of the rose growing along the wooded roads on the island. The Cherokee Rose typically blooms on Jekyll sometime in March to April.
Azaleas under the Oaks
There are great examples of azaleas under the moss-draped oaks of the Historic District, but examples of Jekyll’s Azaleas are found all over the island. The flowers come in white and deep shades of pink and purple. You can find them on some of the golf courses, in the historic district, and in neighborhood yards. Many of the plants are mature and provide four and five tall mounds of solid color. Azaleas bloom from late February to April, depending on the weather.
Crossvine, Wisteria, and Yellow Jessamine
The Yellow Jessamine vine, native to Georgia, might be the earliest blooming vine and was almost done blooming by mid-March this year. You can glimpse it up in the trees, and there are a few of these vines along the Historic District fences. Both the Bignonia Capreolata or Crossvine and Wisteria vines bloom in March on Jekyll Island. The Wisteria can be hard to find, as the island’s deer put this plant on their menu. There is, however, a large stand of the vine where King Avenue meets Lanier. The Crossvine, native to Georgia, grows on the fences in the Historic District, interspersed with the Cherokee Rose. Its longer blooming time gives the fence some color through May.
Blackberry and Bull Thistle
The white flowers of the Blackberry vines are also in bloom. This wild plant thrives along the roadside and on the edges of wooded areas. These berries are also a favorite of the island deer, so they are difficult to harvest. The Bull Thistle has put forth buds and is blooming with both white and pink flowers. Though the plant has a somewhat weedy appearance, the flowers are quite pretty.