Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring flowers: Plant Facts

I was walking around my yard today and came across several wildflowers growing in the woods that surround the sides and back border of our property. Some of the flowers, I have seen many times over the years we have lived here. This is the first year I've seen these flowers growing along the woods line.
Woodland Phlox:
Also called Blue Phlox, Louisiana Phlox, and Wild Sweet William, and with a Latin name of Phlox divaricata (divaricata means "spreading") this is an early spring bloomer that if happy in its position will come back a little bigger every year with masses of sky blue to light purple flowers (with some even available in white and rose colors).   Woodland Phlox is actually a wildflower in every state to some degree, ranging from the Rockies all the way to the Atlantic coast.   

The flowers of Woodland Phlox often have a wonderful fragrance and it is a beautiful plant. It is not a full sun plant, instead preferring dappled shade and fairly moist, well-drained soil, such as one would find in a woodland setting.   It makes a nice early spring planting near a door or in a hanging basket near a walkway. Because of this characteristic, as one might expect, this is an easy plant to propagate by leaf cuttings - just cut off a young shoot and stick it in some potting soil and keep moist. Once the colony gets big enough to divide, this can easily be done in either spring or fall as another way to propagate this plant. 

The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees (especially bumblebees), bee flies, butterflies (especially swallowtails), skippers, and moths (including Sphinx & Hummingbird moths). These insects suck nectar from the flowers. The foliage of Woodland Phlox is readily consumed by various mammalian herbivores, including rabbits, deer, and livestock.

 (I have enjoyed picking small bouquets of these and putting them in a glass of water. They smell great and last a long time after being picked.)

We also have the following two flowers growing around our house. 
Picking a trillium seriously injures the plant by preventing the leaf-like bracts from producing food for the next year. A plant takes many years to recover. For this reason in Michigan, Minnesota and New York it is illegal to pick and/or transplant trilliums from public lands without a permit from the State.
A white trillium serves as the emblem and official flower of the Canadian province of Ontario. It is an official symbol of the Government of Ontario. The large white trillium is the official wildflower of Ohio. The rare Trillium flexipes (drooping trillium) is protected by law in Ontario, because of its very small Canadian population.

Trillium is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants. At maturity, the base and core of the trillium ovary turns soft and spongy. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants extract the seeds from the decaying ovary and take them to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they germinate in a rich growing medium.

Common Blue Violet:
 Natural habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, open woodlands, woodland edges, savannas, and wooded slopes along rivers or lakes. In developed areas, it can be found in lawns, city parks, moist waste areas, and along hedges or buildings. Sometimes the Common Blue Violet is grown in flower gardens.
The flowers and young leaves of violets are edible, and can be added to salads in small amounts.

I've seen these other flowers in past years growing in different areas outside of our property. Maybe you have heard of or have these flowers growing near where you live. I found some of the facts I recently read on these native plants to be very interesting.

Daisy Fleabane

This native annual or biennial plant is erect and up to 3' tall.  Habitats include upland areas of black soil prairies, gravel prairies, hill prairies, limestone glades, dry savannas, eroding clay banks, pastures and abandoned fields, and areas along roadsides and railroads. While this plant species favors disturbed areas, it is more likely to occur in higher quality habitat.  While the fleabanes are often dismissed as 'weeds' because of their ubiquitousness during the summer, they are actually rather cheerful plants that are beneficial to many small insects that play an important role in the functioning of the ecological system.

Queen Anne's lace

Is a member of the Apiaceae or Carrot family and is also referred to as Wild Carrot.  It is a biennial plant with a stout taproot.  Originally a native of Eurasia, it is now considered to be a weed throughout most of North America. In the past, if you wanted to use Wild Carrot seeds, you would have to harvest them yourself. The cultivated carrot is a race of this species.

Women have used the seeds from Daucus carota commonly known as wild carrot or queen anne's lace, for centuries as a contraceptive, the earliest written reference dates back to the late 5th or 4th century B.C. appearing in a work written by Hippocrates.

 Stiff Goldenrod

                                                                                          Source: via Ann on Pinterest

A member of the Aster (Asteraceae) family.  Parts of some goldenrods can be edible when cooked. Goldenrods can be used for decoration and making tea. Goldenrods are, in some places, held as a sign of good luck or good fortune. They are considered weeds by many in North America but they are prized as garden plants in Europe, where British gardeners adopted goldenrod long before Americans did as garden subjects.

 Honey from goldenrods often is dark and strong due to admixtures of other nectars. However when there is a strong honey flow, a light (often water white), spicy-tasting honey is produced. Goldenrod is a companion plant, playing host to some beneficial insects, and repelling some pests.

Inventor Thomas Edison experimented with goldenrod to produce rubber, which it contains naturally. Edison created a fertilization and cultivation process to maximize the rubber content in each plant. His experiments produced a 12-foot-tall (3.7 m) plant that yielded as much as 12 percent rubber. The tires on the Model T given to him by his friend Henry Ford were made from goldenrod. The rubber is only contained in the leaves, not the stems or blooms.

The rubber is only contained in the leaves, not the stems or blooms. is sold as a medicinal, for these issues: mucus, kidney/bladder cleansing and stones, colds, digestion, and a tea is made from the leaves and flowers for sore throat, snake bite, fever, kidney and bladder problems, cramps, colic, colds, diarrhea, measles, cough and asthma

I hope you enjoyed my show of springtime wildflowers from around my home, as well as the plant facts.
May you have a happy and relaxing weekend!

Linking over at these blog parties today:
Home Sweet Home (at the Charm of Home)


  1. Enjoyed reading your post today. I didn't know you could make rubber from the leaves of golden rod! And I love Queen Anne's lace, it's one of my favorite wildflowers.

    Beautiful photos from your yard. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thanks, Cathy! I found the plant facts so interesting, too! I love to learn things like that! Have an awesome weekend!

  2. Oh, the dreaded ragweed(goldenrod). I saw it potted and being sold at Lowes 2 years ago! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!


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