The full Moon May 2024 marks the peak of spring in many parts of North America that acts as a transition into summer’s sunny days and warm nights. The May full Moon is often called the “Flower Moon” with reverence to abundant flowers in bloom, a prelude to Mother Nature’s coming attractions. But what other names does this special spring full Moon go by in different cultures?
Full Moon May 2024: Thursday, May 23
Peak Illumination: 9:53 a.m. Eastern Time
Origin Of The Flower Moon Name
May is the month when hundreds of native flowers, sedges, bushes and trees blossom throughout North America bloom. Columbine’s intricate red and yellow bell-like flowers with deep nectaries provide early season food for hummingbirds and other long-tongued pollinators. Lance-leaf coreopsis produces a plethora of bright yellow, daisy-like flowers. Gardeners who promptly dead head spent blossoms prolong the bloom period through July. Meanwhile large stands of pink-hued prairie smoke create a hazy effect resembling smoke hovering close to the ground.
May’s full Moon bears the name of regionally significant flowers and blooms in other regions.
In the Southeast, the Creek and Choctaw referred to this as the “Mulberry Moon.” Fruit from the native red mulberry tree have long been enjoyed in many forms. As dried fruit, as an additive to water and even mixed into cornbread. Fruit, leaves, and twigs were used to make dyes and the branches were used to make bows.
In the Pacific Northwest, May’s full Moon is known by the Kalapuya as “Camas Blooming Time.” Camas blue flowers cover meadows throughout Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Camas has been a key food source in Northwest Native diets for centuries. When the blooms fade and set seed in June and July, native peoples would harvest the nutrient rich roots. They kept larger bulbs and returned smaller roots to the soil to ensure a good harvest the following year.
Growth-Related May Full Moon Names
Not to be out done by the blooms of spring, May is the month when leaves burst from their buds. It’s the first time since the previous fall for many parts of North America to once again enjoy all the gorgeousness of green. It makes sense the Apache refer to this as “The Season When The Leaves Are Green.” The Lakota call it the “Moon Of The Green Leaves” while the Mohawk name it “The Time Of Big Leaf.”
As the green leaves fill the trees, the last of the hard frosts leave these regions, making it safe for farmers to plant their fields. May’s full Moon has been a harbinger of planting season called the “Field Maker Moon” by the Abenaki, “Corn Moon” by the Winnebago and “When Women Weed Corn” by Algonquin in Northeast to Great Lakes. The East Cherokee strict translation for this is “The Putting It In A Hole Moon.” See our Gardening By The Moon Calendar.
More Names For The May Full Moon
In other regions, the full Moon marks a time related to animals. The Passamaquoddy in Northeast in the St. Croix River region call it the “Alewive Moon.” Also known as the river herring, these migratory fish can be found along the East Coast from Florida to Maine. Alewife populations once reached hundreds of millions. The annual spring return of these fish to coastal rivers every spring supported some of the oldest fisheries in the United States.
The Cree in the Northern Plains into Canada call it the “Frog Moon.” Anyone who has heard the call of the spring peeper frog can attest to appropriateness of this name.
In Europe, May’s Moon is known as the “Milk Moon.” This name dates back o medieval times because May was the month when cows were moved to their summer pastures. These fields provided mother cows with rich nourishment to feed their newborn calves.
Other Celtic and Old English names for this full Moon include “Mothers’ Moon,” “Bright Moon,” “Hare Moon,” and “Grass Moon.”
Whatever it is called, the May full Moon is a time to appreciate the sweetness of spring!
Join The Discussion!
What is your favorite name for May’s full Moon?
Which Moon name best fits with your region?
What would you name it if you could?
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Daniel Higgins is a lifestyle writer with two decades of experience who covers a wide variety of interests, from folklore to food and drink. Higgins writes for The New York Times, USA Today, and Yahoo News.