There seems to be always something in bloom, from the first dripping icicle to the first snowfall. What wildflowers can you find blooming this time of year where you live?
The flowers that bloom along the roadsides, in the meadows and forests, and along the coastlines are those which have naturalized to a specific place. Native plants are part of the uniqueness of a place and are a necessary part of the well-being of a region. Often, however, many of the plants we may think are native have been introduced by human activity and are harmful to those species that have existed there for a much longer time.
We went for a walk down our road and found five flowers in bloom:
The New York American Aster
This is native to the maritime region and beyond. It prefers forest edges, shorelines, roadsides and stream banks.
Queen Anne’s Lace
The five-petalled flowers grow in a white cluster and form a seed head like this later on. This is a non-native plant and is invasive. It is native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Apparently it was “first noted in eastern North America in 1739, developed from carrot seeds that escaped gardens and reverted to their weedy ancestral form” (Wildflowers of the Maritimes, Edmund Redfield).
This is a native plant, and contrary to what some may think, it cannot cause allergies because it is pollinated by bees and not by the wind. It is edible and has many health benefits.
Rabbit’s Foot Clover
This is a plant native to Europe and western Asia that is now common across North America. It spreads only by seed and grows in open, dry places such as roadsides or sandy fields.
This is a native plant and likes to grow in damp woods, streams and ditches. The sap in its leaves and stem can help with insect bites and rashes like poison ivy. It gets its name from the ripe seed pod which explodes when touched to scatter the seeds.
Create a mini herbarium:
Collect blooms and leaves from five or so wildflowers you find and press them between newspaper and a couple heavy books. Leave them for a few days. Identify them using a field guide for wildflowers from your area (you can usually find these in the public library), or do a search for a wildflower guide for your area on the internet – there are some very helpful websites available. When your flowers are dry, mount them in your nature journal. You can use a glue stick for this, or layer Mod Podge both underneath and on top of your pressed specimens. Label.