A tall shrub-like wildflower. Foliage similar to columbine. This is an area we haven’t been to for months, and it was full of flowers new to me, and not appearing at our other usual places. This is one of those herbs considered to have magical properties (good for divination).
Sweet Meadow Rue (Thalictrum aquilegifolium)
The genus Circaea is named after Circe the enchantress in Greek mythology, who was said to have used this plant for her magical purposes. I think this is one of the best names! Has only two petals, but they are deeply lobed so they look like four. Evening Primrose family. (Not related to deadly nightshade.) Native.
Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana)
A truly blue flower. Very common and little noticed, but it’s pretty great up close. I can’t believe it doesn’t have a better name! A medicinal herb in China, and a source of dye in Japan. Spiderwort family. Native to Asia.
(Bonus picture: the two blue petals remind me of a photo I took recently at a dance workshop with Alanah of New York.)
Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis)
A close-up of the dandelionish head, and a silhouette after it has closed for the evening. There are many varieties of hawkweed around here. This one can be 4 feet tall… They get their genus name, meaning hawk, from Pliny, naturalist of ye old ancient times, who thought hawks ate these plants to improve their eyesight (!). Aster family. Native.
Panicled Hawkweed, Devil’s Paintbrush, Mouse-ear (Hieracium paniculatum)
Bees love it and it’s a major source for nectar. Has a sweet odor. Introduced to North America in the 1600s as a forage crop for cattle. Legume family.
White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba)
As long as 2000 years ago, the crushed seeds were used for birth control… by disrupting ovum implantation… It is documented to increase tomato plant production when it’s planted nearby. The root is edible when young. Carrots are a cultivated form of this species. Occasionally the cluster will have one dark red flower in the center, to attract insects — the name is because the flower cluster is lacy, and the red flower is like a drop of blood where Queen Anne pricked herself while making the lace.
Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Carrot, Bird’s Nest (Daucus carota)
An herbal treatment for mild depression. Name comes from its traditional flowering and harvesting on St. John’s Day, June 24. The genus name Hypericum comes from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), because traditionally people used it to ward off evil by hanging St. John’s Wort over a religious icon in their house on St John’s day. Native to Europe.
St. John’s Wort, Chase-devil (Hypericum perforatum)
An aquatic plant that doesn’t like to dry out, growing in shallow water or mud. A native perennial.
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata L.)
This is an unassuming weed in my yard, which has been used as medicine for centuries in countries around the world! There is a long list of active chemical components… and it is apparently being tested and showing promise for use against AIDS and diabetes among other things. Once thought to be holy and sent by God to cure all ailments. Also, Native Americans used it to make a tea they would drink in rituals to sharpen their powers of observation before hunting. It would be collected and dried while in bloom. The leaves and flowers are edible. (I feel like the nutrition doctors who advocate eating lots of fruits and vegetables are probably right when they say one reason is because they contain all these chemicals that are good for our bodies, that we haven’t fully recognized or analyzed??)
Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
A deciduous tree with big heart-shaped leaves and showy clusters of white orchid-like flowers. In the fall will have foot-long brown seed pods. Native. It’s planted as an ornamental, but I kept seeing them in weedy places where they obviously arrived on their own, so I’ve counted them here as wild blooms.
From Wikipedia: The name derives from the Catawba Native American name catawba for these trees (the tribal totem), with the spelling catalpa being due to a transcription error on the part of the describing botanist (Scopoli) making the first formal scientific description of the genus. The rules of botanical naming state that the spelling used in the formal scientific description has to be retained for the scientific name. The name in vernacular use has very largely (though not completely) followed Scopoli’s erroneous transcription, with catawba still in use in some areas of the United States, most particularly within the trees’ native range.
The bean-like seed pod is the origin of the alternative vernacular names Indian bean tree and cigar tree for Catalpa bignonioides and Catalpa speciosa, respectively.
Trumpet Vine family.
Catalpa, Catawba (Catalpa)