Common Arrowhead by Axie Breen PhotographyAnother marsh plant seen at Lake Waban in Wellesley, MA. Grows with its feet in water, can be one to three feet tall with big arrow-shaped leaves. Very attractive to insects because it has 25-40 stamen and can hold loads of pollen. Ducks feed on the tubers and seeds. Muskrats eat them too. Native. Water Plantain family.

Common Arrowhead, Duck Potato (Sagittaria latifolia)

Smooth Aster

Showier blossoms than some of the raggedy varieties that are more common. Up to 3 feet tall. It’s called smooth because the stems and foliage are not hairy or rough like most other asters. Another distinguishing characteristic is the way the leaves clasp the stem. (I don’t usually post the photos I take of the leaves because they’re not pretty, but this would be a more helpful identification tool if I did, because for many plants, leaf formation is the key to figuring out what it is…) Aster family. Native perennial.

Smooth Aster (Aster laevis)

Pink Turtlehead

After seeing white turtlehead growing wild at Charles River Peninsula, it was easy to recognize the pink version in a garden on the Wellesley campus. It’s an unusual flower to see this late in the season; it looks like something that would be out in the spring. Bitter foliage avoided by animals. Pollinated by bumblebees. Figwort family. Native perennial.

Pink Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua speciosa)

Blue Vervain

Up to 6 feet tall. Likes a good swamp. Part of a really great wetland restoration project on the Wellesley campus. Native. Vervain family.

Blue Vervain, Swamp Verbena (Verbena hastata)

New England Aster

There are many kinds of asters. This one is distinguished by how tall it is, with the flowers at my eye level, clasping leaves, and largish flowers, 1 – 2 inches wide. Native. Aster family.

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Bonus picture from the lake (this is the Wellesley College campus):

Spotted Joe-Pye Weed

Tall with 4 to 5 whorled leaves. I’ll have to go back when they’re open.

Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatoriadelphus maculatus)

Update: Here is some in bloom at Longfellow Pond, Late July.


Toxic. Some insects are immune to the toxicity and feed mainly on this plant. This is one with a long record of cultivation as a medicinal herb, starting with ancient Greece. During the middle ages, high doses were used to cause abortions. Also used to ward off insects and for preservative aspects; packed into coffins and used at funerals, placed into bedding. Used in mosquito repellent. Aster family. Native to Europe and Asia.

Tansy, Bitter Buttons, Cow Bitter, Mugwort, Golden Buttons  (Tanacetum vulgare)