A plant I had heard of but never seen materialized on an afternoon walk today. Wild hyacinth, or camassia scilloides, grows in abundance in a nearby wetland that I had managed never to visit during the right time of year. At first, I did not know what this gorgeous thing was
since, fully bloomed out, it does not have the classic hyacinth shape, and the only camassias I have ever seen at garden centers or in catalogs are the more brightly-colored western varieties. But the woods were full of the plant,
and I eventually recognized it (with the help of thoughtfully-provided signage on the edge of the trail and some plants still wearing the more recognizable hyacinth-like form).
Camassia is an important early nectar source for a number of native bees, and the bulbs were sometimes eaten by Native Americans and early European settlers. The Illinois Wildflower Society notes that the plant is an indicator of quality habitat, which is good news considering the sky view from this particular wetland.
I would much rather look at the flowers.
Warning: wild hyacinth has a short bloom season, so if you want to see it, head for your local wetland forest or moist prairie now.