Wildflowers In Bloom

As temperatures warm up and rain showers become more regular; I have noticed beautiful spots of bright colors dotting open, grassy fields and trail edges. It’s that time of the season for wildflowers to emerge and bloom. In my opinion, the occurrence of wildflowers officially marks the start of summer. Not only are wildflowers aesthetically pleasing, but they also provide medicinal uses, food, habitat, erosion control, and ecosystem stability for fish and wildlife. There are approximately 215 species of wildflowers listed in Connecticut, each with a distinctive appearance.

Since not everyone, including myself is a professional botanist; when identifying wildflowers you should try to observe the following characteristics. First, count the number of petals, which is usually three to seven or more. Next, note the flower arrangement. Is it a single flower on a stem or several flowers on a stem? The most obvious flower characteristic is color. Wildflower colors usually range from shades of blue, white, yellow, pink, purple, or green. Also, record the date that the flower blooms; although flowering time can vary based on weather fluctuations. For instance, last week, James Fischer and I spotted Mountain Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium montanum) flowering at Apple Hill. When we discovered its correct identification, we learned that it typically flowers during June and into July. Finally, measure or estimate plant height and flower size. Also note the leaf margin (entire, serrated, wavy), and arrangement; meaning whether they are compound (many leaves per stem) or simple (one leaf per stem). If possible, take a photograph, but try not pick or trample the flower.
The Connecticut Botanical Society website (http://www.ct-botanical-society.org) is an excellent source to use when identifying Connecticut’s native wildflowers. Also, the Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers is a handy book to own when out in the field. As wildflowers continue to bloom throughout the next several months, identifying them can be a fun way to get outside and learn about Connecticut’s flora.
The following pictures are some of the wildflowers that I found at various locations around White Memorial’s property. I walked through wetlands (Little Pond and Cranberry Swamp), grassland (Apple Hill), old growth forests (Catlin Woods), and even stopped the truck several times along curbs to take a photo or two of a roadside wildflower.
Yellow sedge
Carex flava
Erigeron pulchellus

True Forget-me-not
Myosotis scorpioides

Yellow Goat's-beard
Tragopogon dubius
Iris versicolor

Heart-leaved Alexanders
Zizia aptera

Wild Geranium
Geranium maculatum

1 comment:

James Fischer said...

Another great resource that was recently published is by the New England Wildflower Society called Go Botany http://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/

Go Botany is a different kind of ID key because you can tell the key every character that you have to work with no matter what the season (fruiting, flowering, or anything else) and the database will narrow the number of possible species.