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)

Wildflowers in MEP: Fifth in a Series: Common Fleabane

A member of the Aster Family, this is the earliest Fleabane to bloom in the summer. Beginning in April it sends up stalks of flowers 2’-3’ tall. The nectar attracts a variety of insects, and the foliage and flowerheads attract deer, rabbits, groundhogs, horses, cattle and sheep.

Appropriately named, Fleabane was used to rid homes of fleas. The crushed plant produces juices that were applied to the body as a lotion, and the dried plant was burned as a fumigant. Fleabane was also used by Native Americans as a medicinal plant.

Wildflowers in MEP: Sixth in a Series: Spiderwort

These bright blue to purple flowers bloom mainly in the morning and early afternoon.  The common name refers to the spikey, long, leaf-like bracts beneath the flowers, and wort is an Old English name for plant.  The Spiderwort has a long blooming season from May through July, and as the photo indicates,  it is pollinated by Bumblebees. 

Spiderwort had many uses in the past as food and medicine. In addition, scientists have found the stamin of this flower turns from blue to pink when exposed to radiation, and the transparent hairs of the filaments are a favorite biological specimen for observing the flow of cytoplasm in living cells.

Wildflowers in MEP: Seventh in a Series: Crown-Vetch

Pink Flowers in a distinctive flower head. Crown-vetch is widely planted along roadsides to prevent soil erosion.  It is a very attractive plant and a favorite of pollinators such as bees and butterflies. As do all members of the Pea Family, it captures gaseous nitrogen from the atmostphere and converts it to a usable form that enriches the soil,    It was introduced from Europe and is now well-established throughout Ohio. (Henn, Wildflowers of Ohio)

Bob Henn: "I first recorded it blooming on June 7 along the west side of the Rain Garden. It is very healthy this year. :)"


Wildflowers in MEP: Eighth in a Series: Cup-Plant

Bob Henn suggested that the series choose the Cup-Plant this week:  "A good plant now in full bloom alongside Will's Run just below the middle bridge at Miller Park is the Cup Plant (Indian Cup) Silphium perfoliatum."

You can see the yellow flower head, large leaves coarsely toothed in pairs that meet to form a cup around the stem. The flowers resemble Sunflowers.  However, the distinctive leaves that form a cup around the stem make the identification easy.  The "cups" collect rain water that can be used as emergency drinking water.  It is a native plant, common throughout the state, likes moist woodlands, streams, banks, and floodplains and is a favorite of bees.  The blooming period is July-September. (Henn. Wildflowers of Ohio)


Wildflowers in MEP: Ninth in a Series: Partridge Pea

Partridge Pea is in full bloom throughout the South Prairie and the Prairie Loop so you should easily spot the beautiful yellow flowers with a red blotch at the base and dark antlers. In October there will be long thin pea pods filled with miniature black lima beans. Please feel free to collect for your own garden. The plant is an annual and reseeds itself.

"With a hand lens, examine the stamens. Four are yellow and six are purple. How is this an adaptation for survival?" Bob Henn, Wildflowers of Ohio

This plant blooms from July through September and provides nectar for many pollinators.  Sulphur caterpillars feast on the feathery leaves. (North American Butterfly Association)


Wildflowers in MEP: Tenth in a Series: Jerusalem Artichoke

Bob Henn brought a Jerusalem Artichoke to the Miller Ecological Steering Committee's Zoom meeting on September 14.  During his "Make Us Naturalists" presentation, he gave an informative and entertaining presentation on this wildflower which is in the Aster family. It is found along country roads and wet ditches and is a big yellow plant 6-8 feet tall.  The roots are edible, much like a potato.  Sacajawea fed them to Lewis and Clark on their journey.  Settlers boiled the flower buds of the edible Sunflowers and ate them with butter as they did artichokes.

You can find a few Jerusalem Artichokes in MEP in the Prairie Loop at East End.