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Common Spring Violet

 Wildflowers in MEP: First in a Series: Common Violet

The violet is so common today that few people consider it a wild flower.  It grows just about everywhere. However, the violet has an impressive history in mythology and medicine.  The basal leaves are rich in Vitamin A and C and can be used in salads and cooked as greens.  The leaves are heart-shaped which may have influenced its ancient use as a love potion and heart medicine.  One of the first flowers of spring, it is an important source of nectar for early bees and butterflies.  The upper four petals attract pollinators and the lower petal serves as a landing strip.  (March-June)

Wildflowers in MEP: Second in a Series: Golden Ragwort

The Golden Ragwort has basal leaves and the daisy-like yellow flowers grow in flat topped clusters.  The flower blooms as early as March and for just a short period.  It can be found in moist areas such as streams and rivers.  This photo was taken along theright side of Will’s Run in Miller Ecological Park where the beginning of the gravel path leading from the parking lot splits. 

         The nectar and pollen attract small bees and insects, and while the plant has been used for a number of medicinal purposes, there are safety concerns.

Wildflowers in MEP: Third in a Series: Foxglove Beardtongue

The Foxglove Beardtongue is also known as White Beardtongue and has white to pale pink flowers forming tubes in clusters at the top of 2-4 foot stalk.  The flower is called Beardtongue because one of the 5 stamens is sterile and has a tuft of small hairs that attract long-tongued bees such as honeybees, bumblebees, Miner bees, Mason bees, and even humingbirds. The word Foxglove comes from the Anglo-Saxon name for foxglove plants, Foxes Glofa, which looked like the glove of a fox.  Actually the plant is not a foxglove which is the digitalis family, but rather in the pentstemons family. This penstemons just looks something like a foxglove.  They bloom May-July.

Wildflowers in MEP: Fourth in a Series: Golden Alexanders

Golden Alexanders with bright yellow flowers have been described as a carefree plant and one of the earliest in the Parsley family to bloom in the spring.  The tiny flowers are arranged in umbrels, resembling the spokes of an umbrella.  While the plant prefers sun and wet soils, it will survive dry summers and shade. Look for Golden Alexanders in Miller Park along the gravel trail on the south side of the large prairie. (May-June)