Do you know what they are? They're wild strawberries. When I was a kid, we'd sometimes find them on the banks by the river, and last August, while picking huckleberries in Idaho with my inlaws, we stumbled on a huge patch of wild strawberries. Have you ever eaten one? They are intensely sweet, with an almost artificial, strawberry syrup flavor. My inlaws and I planted ourselves in the middle of the patch and ate them right off the ground.
They are clearly doing fine outside in the cold, damp weather (we are having a cold snap....also known as a typical late April in western Montana) but I'm bringing them inside to live in the kitchen sink for a few days.
We've also seen a bunch of these in the yard. This is a trillium, and they grew wild in wooded areas in my hometown in Wisconsin. My mother told me they were protected and we would get in big big trouble if we picked them. We also had some growing in my mom's flower garden. When I asked about the legalities of this, because I was concerned about the fuzz coming to arrest my mother, she said she was exempt because she didn't technically pick them...she replanted them. We used to go to a park a couple of blocks away from our house, and these flowers grew there. I would have that almost uncontrollable urge to pick one in defiance, but I never did because I actually believed a cop would zoom in and arrest me.
But here's the thing: They are not protected, and it's not illegal to pick them. I'm not sure why my mother told me that. I have come up with 3 possible reasons:
1. She honestly thought they were protected.
2. She loves all flowers so much that it broke her heart to see one picked
3. She perpetrated a 30 year practical joke.
Knowing my mother, it's #3.