The Call of Coreopsis

In the middle of June I find myself drawn repeatedly to the patches of Coreopsis now scattered in the fields of Eliza Howell Park.

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Coreopsis, also known as Tickseed (a name based on the shape of the seed), is one of the flowers more often called by its Latin name than its English name.*

Coreopsis is a native American wildflower, about 2 feet tall. Each stem has just one flower at the top. The flower has 8 petals, each normally having 4 lobes at the tip.

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I am called to the concentrations of coreopsis in two ways. 

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The first is simply to admire and enjoy the flowers. The second is to check out the visiting insects. Coreopsis calls to them also.

On a recent walk, I came across a Black Swallowtail and a Painted Lady.

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The meadow flowers of the summer provide the best opportunity of the year for insect watching in Eliza Howell and the season starts with Coreopsis. Here are a few I noted in the last couple days.

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The weather has been cool for June, but the silent call of the Coreopsis is signaling the beginning of summertime nature walks, featuring blooming meadow wildflowers and a fascinating variety of insects.

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* For those interested in the meaning of the name: The Latin word “coreopsis” itself describes the shape of the seed, taken from two Greek words meaning “bug” and “appearance.” Most of us, however, don’t think of the meaning of the Greek root words when we think or say “coreopsis.”

 

 

July Blooms and Butterflies: Part 1

The middle of July is a great time to walk among (or at the edges of) the blooming wildflowers that cover much of the un-mowed sections of Eliza Howell fields. The pictures below are of some of the most common and easily seen species present at this time.

All or almost all of these can be found in the park areas outside the road loop on the south side, where native prairie seeds were spread a number of years ago.

NOTE: These flowers will be featured in the public nature walk on July 14, 2018, at 11:00.

The blooming flowers attract many butterflies and other insects. Part 2 will identify some of the butterflies most frequently seen in July in EHP.

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Wild Bergamot

Bergamot is similar to the “beebalm” often grown in flower gardens, but is not red like the most common cultivated variety. It might be the most common flower of all in the park in July.

 

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Heliopsis

A variety of tall perennial yellow flowers are native to North America. Many bloom a little later in the year. Heliopsis blooms in July.

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Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed, another tall perennial, is just beginning to bloom. It is reportedly named after a Native American who took the name “Joe Pye” and was known for using this plant for medicinal purposes.

 

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Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan is another flower that is widely used in home gardens.

 

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Queen Anne’s Lace

This flower, related to the cultivated carrot, is sometimes called “wild carrot.” Its flower (flat cluster – umbel – on top), rather than its root, is the primary attraction.

 

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Purple Coneflower

If interested in watching for butterflies and bees (and possibly hummingbirds), taking a position near the coneflowers is a good strategy.

 

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Butterfly Weed

Butterfly weed is a member of the milkweed family and, true to its name, attracts many butterflies, especially Monarchs.

 

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Mullein

Mullein is sometimes called the “velvet plant” for the soft feel of the leaves. It has a single tall flowering stem. The stems are strong enough that the previous-year dead stalks are sometimes still standing the next summer.

 

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Chicory

There are not nearly as many blue flowers as there are yellow and white and purple; chicory is one. Its roots have often been ground and used as a coffee additive or even a coffee substitute.

 

 

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Bouncing Bet 

This is often called “soapwort” and was\is used to make soap. As I understand it, “bouncing bet” was a term sometimes used for washerwoman.

 

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Crown Vetch

Because of its thick spreading growth, Crown Vetch was brought to the US for erosion control in the middle of the 20th century. It has now become naturalized and is found in many parts of the country.

 

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Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle is nearing the end of its blooming season in the middle of July, but it continues to attract insects and birds. Goldfinches will be in the thistle patches for the next few weeks, eating the seeds.

 

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Sweetclover

Both Yellow and White Sweetclover, usually considered separate species, are found in EHP and both can be seen in this picture. Sweetclover is a popular species for honey production.

These are among the most easily spotted wild flowers in the middle of July in Eliza Howell Park. They attract not only butterflies (see Part 2) and bees, but also humans like me.

Some June Meadow Flowers

The summer means a magnitude of wildflowers in the fields of Eliza Howell Park, especially those areas  that are not mowed. In the first part of June, the earliest of the summer flowers are beginning to bloom.

As I walk through the “weeds,” I cannot resist pulling out my phone camera. Here are a few pictures of flowers that have caught my eye in the last week.

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Foxglove Beardtongue

 

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Coreopsis

 

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Yarrow

 

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Red Clover

 

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Hairy Beardtongue

 

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Ox-eye Daisy

 

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Crown Vetch

These flowers are all over a foot high (except for the clover) and easy to find by those willing to get off the path. Other flowers will follow soon and the Eliza Howell fields will be abloom until the Fall frost.