It’s in your nature: Some local summer wildflowers and facts
Queen Anne’s lace has 2- to 3-inch flat, white umbels with a characteristic purple floret in the center. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Yarrow is another July white wild flower, but a bit unlike the Queen Anne’s lace, it has a different umbel and feathery looking leaves.
Daisy fleabane has smaller, more delicate flowers than the more robust oxeye daisy.
Small underfoot, the self heal has tiny purple flowers that bumblebees love. The plant is only about 8 inches.
Hedge bindweed, framed by purple chickory, is not morning glory, but rather a nuisance plant in your gardens and hedges.
Oxeye daisies paint meadows and roadsides beginning in late June.
Snap dragon-like, these butter and eggs brighten a meadow but only grow 8 or 10 inches high.
Pretty, but … this musk or nodding thistle is one of three thistle species listed in Pennsylvania’s Noxious Weed Control Act. Look for them along roadsides and field edges.
Those readers with flower beds know that flowers have a blooming period. You can expect the crocus to be a very early bloomer, followed by hyacinth and tulips, bleeding hearts and daffodils. They are the “spring bloomers.”
Summer and fall meadows and roadsides bless us with a variety of summer and fall wildflowers. I’d like to highlight a few of the common and one or two not commonly seen in this week’s column.
Just like some smaller bird species can go unnoticed, some of our prettiest wildflowers hide, too. Maybe I can prompt you on a summer birding trek, morning walk or country drive to “think small” and notice some of summer’s trove.
Some of the local wildflowers have properties which we utilize such as the daisy fleabane. Once dried and hung in the houses to deter fleas (ineffective, by the way) it is used to help in digestive issues, decreasing coughing and even helps with poison ivy discomfort.
Its nearly 1-inch flowers are common in fields, often growing beside the much larger oxeye daisy.
Also very common along roadsides, meadows, and even your lawn edges is the Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot). A native plant from Europe, it is now well-established almost everywhere in the U.S. Besides brightening the landscape, the young roots are edible.
A third medicinal and edible plant is self-heal. It blooms beginning in late June through much of July. Basically reaching about 8 inches and not one of our showiest flowers, I locate them by all the bumblebees which they attract.
It was used by our Native Americans for a variety of ailments, and with proper usage, it can still be helpful today for skin irritations and digestive problems. Its numerous purple flowers cover a bottle cork shaped flower base.
One flower I wanted to highlight is an often misidentified flower. Hedge bindweed, a twiny vinelike weed, is mistakenly identified as the morning glory. It has white cone shaped (morning glory-like) flowers which bloom overnight.
Here is your biology lesson. You may know that flowers’ shape, color, smell and overall appearance are for the sole purpose of pollination. White flowers, like the hedge bindweed, are rather fragrant and use that to attract moths and night feeding insects.
This plant does not waste any energy to develop bright-colored petals. The gaudy day bloomers advertise their colorful petals to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to assist in pollination.
Moths, the nocturnal complement to butterflies, use their large, feathery antennae to find the fragrant hedge bindweed in the dark of the night. Butterflies can smell nectar (their sense of smell is poor in relation to moths) but use their eyesight to find your flowers, or the wildflowers I have highlighted.
Test your outdoor knowledge: What are the male bees of a honey bee hive called? A. never late for supper, B. kings, C. dukes, D. drones, E. soldiers.
Last Week’s trivia answer: All the worker bees from a honey bee hive are females. However, they are infertile (cannot lay eggs) because their ovipositors (egg-laying organs) have been modified into a stinger.
Contact Barry Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.