Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday ~ More Edge Flowers

I think I could fill this blog post every week with just the flowers that bloom along the edge of our driveway, but I promise next time I'll share some flowers growing elsewhere. Today, however, more flowers of weedy, gravelly, edgy open places.

The first black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) opened up last Thursday. The proportion of different types of plants in our yard seems to change from year to year. We used to have tons of black-eyed Susans growing all over (some with really weird, flat stems), but they've scaled back to a smattering over the last few years.

The same day the Susans opened up was also the first day I noticed the fleabane. Fleabanes are like tiny daisies or asters with zillions of tiny ray flowers. 

These fleabanes are giving me fits (I realize that normal people probably don't have fits over fleabanes). I think the one above is annual fleabane (Erigeron annuus). The ray flowers have ever-so-faint a hint of lavender. 



And this smaller cousin (above and below) I think might be rough fleabane (Erigeron strigosus), but I think I need to spend a bit more time with these fleabanes and the flower key. Fleabanes are in the Asteraceae (composite) family.



I've been keeping my eye on these two mullein plants (Verbascum thapsus), waiting for the flowers to open up, which they just started to do this weekend.





They're not that tall (we had a mullein growing next to our house last summer that was taller than I am), but still, I love their weird, wooly growth. And this is the first time I've really looked closely at the flowers, which are lovely. When I first learned about this plant in Colorado, many years ago, it was referred to by the common name "Indian toilet paper." But it's an import from Eurasia, so if the Indians ever did use it for toilet paper, it was only post-contact. Not sure how I'd feel about all those tiny little hairs in contact with delicate bits. Mullein is in the figwort family.

I'm very excited to see milkweed starting to bloom. I spread the seeds every fall, in hopes of enticing the ever-dwindling populations of monarch butterflies to our yard. I think there are more plants this year. So maybe my efforts have paid off. Or maybe it just seems like more because surrounding plants haven't grown to their full height yet.



We have the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The flowers smell divine. After I moved in to inhale the scent of this one, I noticed the flowers were full of ants and even a spider. Lots of life going on in these milkweeds. Milkweed is in the dogbane family.


Common St. John's-wort (Hypericum perforatum) just opened up this weekend also (a bit late--it's supposed to bloom on the Feast of St. John, June 24). Many people know of St. John's-wort from the fad of its treatment for depression a few years ago, but C used to make a beautiful red infused oil with it that was amazing on sore muscles. St. John's-wort has a family all its own (Hypericaceae).

On Monday, I saw the first goldenrod of the season, aptly named early goldenrod (Solidago juncea). I love the word "solidago." I have no idea what it means, but it has a nice ring to it. I never knew until last year that there were multiple species of goldenrod--I had always assumed that all nodding, shaggy yellow plants were just plain "goldenrod." I spent some time last year puzzling out the different species that grow around our house and while I by no means can name them all by sight, I can see the differences. Someone somewhere wrote "to name is to see" and it's so true! Goldenrod is also in the Asteraceae family.

I did briefly go off-piste (this is a word I learned from my friend David who made fun of me for tromping around through the woods and poison ivy in search of flowers) to see if the pyrola (Pyrola elliptica) I had seen getting ready to flower last week had bloomed yet. Only the very lowest flowers had opened up, but there were a lot more plants than I ever knew we had growing in this area (an area into which I don't usually go in the summer, once the poison ivy reaches a certain height). I wasn't dressed for stomping around in the mud and puckerbrush (and aforementioned poison ivy), so I wasn't able to see the extent of pyrola growth in that part of the woods, but I will go back out in boots soon!

The common name for pyrola is "shinleaf" which I think in no way does justice to these lovely, waxy little blooms. Pyrola are members of the heath family.




Finally, here is a picture of a bit of that long, long driveway along which so many of these plants grow.


What's blooming in your neck of the woods?

10 comments:

  1. I've never seen purple milkweed before. The kind we have around here is always orange, I didn't know it came in any other color.

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    1. I'd love to see an orange milkweed!!

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    2. I don't think I have seen purple either. We had the whorled milkweed in New Mexico. It had the neatest looking flower.

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    3. Does milkweed not make it as far north as Nova Scotia?

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  2. You had me at, "fits over fleabanes!" Love that I am not the only one throwing fits over wildflowers!
    Another great post filled with such useful information. I love these peeks ahead. We are still a few weeks behind.

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    1. So glad to know I'm in good company!

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  3. Okay, you will think I'm a complete dunce, but we have milkweed growing everywhere here, but I didn't know it was milkweed. I even thought of buying milkweed seeds thinking it would be nice to plant them around our yard... there are stands of milkweed everywhere a few 100 ft from our house. I feel a bit silly.

    Our goldenrod (we have huge plants of them in our actual backyard) is nowhere near flowering.

    BTW : St-John's Wort is also amazing on skin irritations, cuts and burns... :-)

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    1. You are not a dunce at all! How would you know until you learn it? And how great you have some right in your neighborhood? Some day I will get back to making St. John's Wort concoctions. Thanks for the tip!

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  4. Lovely. There are tiny white pin-prick sprigs of bitty flowers I do not know how to identify that I always called "sideflowers" as a child because I always found them on the sides of curbs.

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    1. Hmm, I wonder what those are? We have tiny pink flowers called sand spury growing alongside sidewalks and curbs.

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