The woodland habitat at Snail Lake Park in Shoreview MN is putting on a flower show right now. What an amazing diversity of colors, shapes, and sizes of flowers I saw on my bike ride today. A disclaimer for the photos below — I did not take the good camera. All photos were shot with the little Olympus point and shoot pocket camera, and most of the shots were in fairly deep shade which is challenging for this camera.
Wood sunflowers are everywhere and in great density.
I only saw two of these plants, both of which just had 1-2 open flowers. I am calling it a blue aster, but don’t think that is quite right.
This is White Campion or White Cockle, which has separate male and female flowers. The male flowers have a more tubular flower shape with stamens in the center of the petals (lacking female parts), and the female flowers have the more swollen shape, like the one you see in the extreme right corner of the photo, and lack stamens.
Canda Thistle prefers habitat with more light, and this plant was about 7 feet tall where it was growing in semi-shade.
I think this is Canda (or Showy) Tick Trefoil, a member of the bean family. Pairs of Japanese Beetles were mating all up and down the stems, but seemed to leave the flowers alone.
Purple (but it looks pink here) Loosestrife looks a lot like the Tick Trefoil, but it has smaller flowers in tighter clumps, and they have 5 regular petals instead of the pea- or bean-shaped flower that has a banner (top), two wings, and a keel. Honeybees and bumblebees love this plant. Wetland enthusiasts hate this plant because it is too successful and displaces all kinds of native aquatic vegetation, even cattails.
Another introduced plant wreaking havoc in both gardens and crop fields is Creeping Bellflower, which spreads into a thick mat if left undisturbed. It propagates really well from an underground rhizome and can even successfully invade grassy lawns.
The Common Evening Primrose can grow 4-5 feet tall, but typically has just a couple of flowers open at any one time. They only last about a day, opening in the evening (hence the name!) and fading by the next afternoon. Under UV light exposure the petals exhibit a striped pattern that pollinators follow to the nectar source.
Joe Pye Weed grows in dense clumps, and the flower heads look fuzzy with their highly dissected petals standing upright. Who is Joe Pye that he got a plant named after him you might wonder? He was a Native American physician who used plants medicinally in his New England practice. The Ojibwe Indians used this plant to make “strengthening baths”.
Canada Goldenrod grows better in full sun, but it was abundant in the semi-shaded habitat as well. Most of it looked perfectly normal, but some of it had stunted stems with fuzzy tops and no flowers. The New Hampshire Gardener blog explains that this aberrant growth form is due to the Goldenrod Midge which lays its eggs in the leaf bud, causing a “bunch” of leaves to form in place of the normal flower stalk.
Hedge Bindweed is a perennial twining vine member of the Morning Glory family that can grow up to 10 feet long. With its rapid growth and climbing habit, it can quickly overgrow and overwhelm small herbaceous plants and is considered a nuisance. The flowers are pretty though.
Spotted Touch-me-not (sometimes called Jewelweed) has single flowers that hang delicately beneath a leaf. The ripe seed pods expand with gas and explode when touched, spraying seeds into the nearby vicinity. Another fun activity for kids on a late summer walk…
The last plant in today’s photo collection is White Snakeroot, a very common, shade-loving, noxious perennial that is poisonous to livestock. Not only does it cause lethargy, excessive salivation, muscle weakness and breathing problems in horse, sheep, and cattle, but the tremetol poison is passed into the milk and can incapacitate and kill humans who drink the tainted milk (“milk fever”). Supposedly this is the cause of death for Abraham Lincoln’s own mother. So don’t let your livestock, pets, or children eat this.