What’s Flowering Now
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In recent days, I’ve noticed along the roadsides, in ditches and in varying meadows many of our beloved late summer blooming wildflowers and their exceptional display of red, purple, white and yellow colors. If you are a fervent flowering plant chaser or desire to be, I encourage you over the coming weeks to buckle-up, activate your flowering plant sensors and don’t forget your camera as you drive throughout the county in search of the latest sightings of Ironweed, Pale Jewel Weed or varying Rudbeckia.
The following is a small list of the more common late summer flowering plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountains with an elevation of 1800 – 5000 feet.
Red a beloved and easy to spot color is highlighted by the Cardinal Flower with its bright scarlet flowers with alternate toothed leaves. You can observe this lovely native from July through September along streams and grassy shoulders of the roadways. Bee Balm popular among the Native Americans can be found in wet fields and along streams and is used as a tea to treat colic and gas.
Be on the lookout for purple bloomers that range in varying shades of mauve, violet to indigo such as our native thistles, wild mint and Asters. Some of our taller purple flowering plants include; ‘Ironweed’ which is brilliant in color and may reach a height up to 10 feet. Another lofty native includes ‘Joe Pye Weed.’ This plant reaches heights upwards of 12 feet and exhibits a very large pinkish-purple flower head with leaves that smell like vanilla when bruised. Consider dwarf selections of both Ironweed and ‘Joe Pye Weed’ such as “Little Joe’ and ‘Mistflower Ageratum’ that are well liked in many landscape beds.
Pink natives to watch for include the ‘Swamp Milkweed, Soapwort, ‘Pink Turtlehead,’ and ‘Obedient Plant.’ ‘Swamp Milkweed’ is a great addition for a butterfly garden and may be found in wet meadows and marshes with a large planting along the Greenway in Franklin, NC. ‘Pink Turtlehead,’ unique within the Snapdragon family has flowers that resemble the heads of turtles. ‘Pink Turtlehead’ may be found along stream banks and wet meadows. For cut flower enthusiasts, ‘Obedient Plant’ is a great perennial for the garden producing stalks of pink flowers perfect in varying arrangements.
White flowering plants to observe include ‘Queen Anne’s Lace, ‘Virgins Bower’ and ‘White Snakeroot.’ ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ (‘Wild Carrot’ or ‘Yarrow’) a non-native plant is found in fallow fields and roadsides, and is noted for its big umbel shaped flowers. Although ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ is notoriously known as “chigger weed,” it also attracts beneficial insects such as lacewings, predatory wasps, minute pirate bugs, and tachinid flies. These “good insects” then eat many vegetable and landscape pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, mites, scale insects, white flies, thrips, many caterpillars, beetle larvae, flies and other soft-bodied insects. Additional white blooming flowers include many species of asters such as ‘White Wood Aster’.
Probably the largest color group of our late summer flowering plants includes the yellows. From now until first frost you might see one or more than 20 different species of ‘Golden Rod’ in western North Carolina. Goldenrods are great perennials for the landscape, and contrary to what most believe Ragweed not Golden Rod is the culprit for fall allergies. Additional fall yellow blooming plants include yellow Asters, Pale Touch-Me-Nots, Black-Eyed Susan, Common St. Johnswort, ‘Butter and Eggs’ and so much more!
There are many additional late summer blooming wildflowers that are not mentioned above. For more information check out the following websites: