September 26, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday:
Chance encounters


When bad luck strikes, do you curse the moment and stew about your predicament? Or do you search for something positive in the situation?

I must admit, while I try to be a glass-half-full kind of person, too often I waste time complaining and crabbing when things go wrong.

Last weekend, we spent two days at our lake property north of our home. While driving on one of the country roads, we had a flat tire. It wasn't a little thing--it was a big puncture. (Can you see it in the photo?)

The fishman and the son got to work right away removing the flat and mounting the spare. And I had a choice: I could sit in the car and stew, I could "help" them with the tires, or I could take a walk and investigate my countryside surroundings.

Guess what I chose to do?

Yes, you are right!

I had my new handy-dandy smartphone along, with its decent camera, so I set off down the country road to capture the local plant life. Knowing Gail's Wildflower Wednesday was coming up provided extra fodder for my excursion.

Having unplanned time to capture wildflowers--on a country road on a crisp, clear autumn day--that is pure pleasure for a plant-lover. And later sleuthing to identify said wildflowers is fun, too, although I might need your help with a few of these. (My folio paperback "Wildflowers of America" and usda.gov were helpful, but please correct me if any of these are wrong.)


The pollinators were going crazy over all the roadside wildflowers. But especially on this Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides). I figured this was an Aster, but it took me a while to track down the variety because of the unique growth pattern.


Many of the plants were storing up seeds to disperse for next year's wildflowers. Just think of all the little Milkweeds (Asclepias syriaca) that will result from this productive plant.


I'm unsure about this one, but I think it was Milkvetch (Astragalus striatus or agrestis). The purple blooms really popped in the oblique September light.


Identifying this white columnar wildflower as a variety of Ladies Tresses seemed correct, but I guessed on the species. (Spiranthes cernua?) Or maybe it's White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba) per A.L.'s comment.


The Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) also was distinctive, with its needle-like foliage and pointy seed heads.

The grasses, too, are incredible this time of year.


Can anyone venture a guess on the name of this rainbow-colored grass?


This Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia porteri?) created a purple haze of loveliness.


Back at the lake house, along the shore another grass species was in its full glory, with pinkish filaments extending from the flower heads. I thought maybe this was Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), but on closer study I think I'm wrong on this one. It sure is pretty, though. A.L. (see comments) says it's Barnyard Grass (Echinocloa crus-galli). Thanks!


I don't recall seeing Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate (Polygonum orientalis) at the lake before. Either I didn't notice it, or it volunteered from a neighbor's garden. This variety of Knotweed, while lovely, is not native to the U.S.


These little jewels were thriving just where the water met the shore. I thought they were a variety of Tickseed (Coreopsis). A.L. reports they are Nodding Bur-Marigolds (Bidens cernua), and same for the Sunflowers later in this post.


The old standby Cattails (Typha latifolia) were just beginning to break apart and disperse their seeds.


These fading Sunflowers (Helianthus hirsutus?) captured the mood of the waning summer.

OK, I'm cheating with these next three shots--they were taken up at the lake in the springtime. But I'm throwing them in so we all have something to look forward to for the next growing season:


Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum);


Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca); and


Spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata?).

We won't be spending much more time up at the lake this season.


But there's always so much to look forward to for the next season.


Oh, and by the way, can anyone help me ID this fading wildflower? I think it's beautiful even at this stage.

Thanks to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting Wildflower Wednesdays on the fourth Wednesday of each month!

30 comments:

  1. Hey Plant Postings. Enjoyed your post; Fall is still an excellent time for wildflowers. Your "ladies'-tresses" above is actually just white sweet clover (Melilotus alba). Spiranthes are never branched and much shorter.

    Your "Big Bluestem" is indeed not it but rather barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli).

    Also your "Tickseed" and "Sunflowers" plants are actually the same species called nodding bur-marigold (Bidens cernua).

    Hope that helps out!

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    1. Thanks, A.L.! And welcome! Who would think that Barnyard Grass could be so pretty! It really caught my eye--growing so tall among the Polygonum and the Cattails. Now I know who to consult for help IDing plants!

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  2. Luckily we have these wildflowers which act as a food source for wildlife. It is fun learning about their names and characteristics. I do look forward to Wildflower Wednesdays.

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    1. Yes, so true! Most of the ones shown here are native to my area, or as in the case of the Polygonum, a nonnative species of a genus that is native here. So it's fun to focus on them.

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  3. Great post. There is beauty all around us, isn't there.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. Yes, sometimes the wildflowers aren't as showy, but on closer inspection they are incredible. :)

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  4. You certainly made the best of a bad situation, Beth! Such gorgeous photos--I can't believe how advanced smart phones have become. I drive down country roads most days and admire all the wild beauty around me, but rarely take the time to stop and really take a closer look. I should do that more often--it's amazing what we can find.

    I'm not sure, but your Polygonum looks more like the Persicaria that we call smartweed; it's a common sight in fields and along roadsides around here.

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    1. Thanks, Rose. I'd been thinking about posting for Wildflower Wednesday with some photos near the lake. But then when the flat tire happened it was like a gift of a little time and opportunity to do more "sleuthing" and discovery! I'm almost certain the Polygonum is orientalus because of its draping structure. I thought about persicaria or pensylvanicum, but they are more upright. But it's certainly possible.

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  5. Lovely. So many different varieties! I can only imagine that this is a playground for so many types of wildlife. I'm almost glad you got a flat tire! ;)

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    1. Thanks, Holley. Yes, sometime I should do a post about the wildlife because they certainly are plentiful and diverse! But I always feel funny because of my blog title. ;-) At first I was totally bummed (and concerned) about the flat tire. But then I thought, wow, this is a chance to take a walk, breathe the fresh air, and get some material for my blog! I need to try for that state of mind all the time!

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    2. if the plants support wildlife, as they do, that would still fit into your blog title. Your smartphone does indeed take good pictures, and the wildflowers are fascinating. Wonder what your last one will be called.

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    3. Good point, Diana. I'll work on including more animals. Still not sure what the last one is, but it's hard to tell in its current state of near dormancy.

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  6. Like you I'm having fun with my brand new handy dandy iPhone! Great photos and observations

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I went with an iPhone 4S because someone said the camera is slightly better than the 5 with depth of field. It's nice for those "capture it while you can when you don't have your regular camera" kind of shots.

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  7. Wow! You made good use of that time. It really is a beautiful time of year. Sad about closing the lake house (& it's not even mine!!) just because of what it means. I do love your new blog header too.
    I know what you mean about needing moisture ~ we've been lucky enough to get some rain the last few days. I hope it moves your way. I'm not ready for snow but I know we can use it this winter too...

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen! We're still in severe drought--down 9.3 inches for the year. But the weather is incredible so everyone is ignoring the lack of rain. I hate to say it, but we'll really need snow this winter.

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  8. p.s. forgot to add ~ wish some kiss me over the garden gate would just appear in my garden!! Been wanting to add that one...

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    1. Hmmmm...it will be interesting to see if you're able to find the seeds. Or plants next spring.

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  9. Beth what a great idea of capturing the moment and living in the moment...I love all the wildflowers you found...just gorgeous...I am not great at identifying them from pictures unfortunately. I agree your phone takes great shots...and I further agree that posting about wildlife that visits plants fits perfectly...your blog, is your blog and you decide!

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    1. Thanks, Donna. No one seems to know what the last plant is--maybe I'll have to go back to that spot in the springtime. Sounds like I should add some animal shots to the mix. Now if I can just capture the moving targets! ;-)

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  10. Beth, I love this post and thank you for sharing your field observations! It's inspiring and helpful for all of us to use our apps and cellphones to id plants! it's fun, too! Happy WW!

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    1. Thanks for hosting, Gail! I hope to join in more in the months ahead. I need to get organized and plan my posts for all my favorite memes!

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  11. Beth, what a lovely post, you sure made great use of the time, and yes, I could see the puncture! Here in London there aren't many wildflowers, unless we plant them ourselves in our tiny gardens. I hope you soon get some proper rain, we have yet again some to send you – Britain has been flooded again...

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    1. Thank you, Helene! I kind of want to go back to that spot in the springtime to figure out what the mystery plant is. I imagine the wildflowers in the English countryside are equally as lovely. And I know your garden is incredible!

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  12. Lucky you to see so many wildflowers so late in the season (here at low elevations they begin in January and are mostly done by March..). Good for you to turn your roadside mishap into such a wonderful excursion, and thank you for letting me tag along.

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    1. I know it's a totally different landscape in your part of California--but also incredible in its own way. We stayed south of San Francisco during our most recent trip there. I remember the flowers overtaking the hills--but I'm not sure whether they were wildflowers or planted nursery varieties. I think it was June. Beautiful vistas!

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  13. I try not to stress about things I can't change but don't always succeed. It sounds like you made good use of your time while the tire was changed. I have aster ericoides in my garden and it's a great plant. Very tough.

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    1. I'm too much of a control freak--except when it comes to the garden, where I mostly go with the flow. I really need to work on a more positive attitude when schedules shift. If I had more sun, I'd plant some Asters. Although maybe I have a spot...

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  14. Hi, just wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger award, one of those awards bloggers give each other for mutual recognition. There's some homework involved, see my site for details. If you'd rather not, that's fine. I do really enjoy your blog.

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    1. That is so kind of you, Jason! Kudos to you for receiving two recent awards--you certainly deserve them! Now I will have to do my "homework." Thanks. Truly, I appreciate the honor!

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