Monday, May 31, 2010

Think Wildflowers

We took a trip to the Coast Saturday. It was glorious, sunny and no wind. I had wanted to give my new camera an outing. Unfortunately, the traffic was too heavy to stop for wildflowers along the roadside.

So, we went on a short, less than an hour trip Sunday. There were many plants in bloom.

I love to use our native wildflowers in the home garden landscape. There are all the usual reasons: drought resistance, beauty, forage for native wildlife, and pretty much no-fail plants.

I tend to see the roadside plants as both weeds and wildflowers. So many of what we think of as a wild plant are just those that have escaped cultivation or come in with imported agricultural products.

I took a slew of pictures, so here are just a few of the best ones:

Wild Rose, Rosa nutkana
There was a Wild Rose growing at the corner of our lot on Hembree.  The rose hips were tart but tasty.

White Oregon Iris, Iris tenax
This iris may be any shade of white, blue, lavender, purple, or yellow

Wild Iris and Teasel heads, Dipsacus fullonum
Teasel is an European import.  It was used to 'tease' the wool before spinning.

Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
At first I thought this weed had been hit by an herbicide.  On closer inspection, the white veins are natural.  This is an European import and considered a noxious weed here in Oregon.   It looks vicious.  By the way, say the name out loud, "Silly Bum."  Those old biologists did sometimes have a great sense of humor.

Mule's Ears, Wyethia amplexicaulis
Scott's eagle eye saw this plant.  I didn't see it until he pointed it out!

Scotch Broom, Cytisus scoparius
This plant is highly invasive, as are all brooms.  The seed heads are spring-loaded.  When ripe, the seeds are flung far from the mother-plant.  They make a 'popping' sound.

The One and Only Real Trailing Blackberry, Rubus ursinus
You will find male and female plants.  Don't ask which this is.  All other blackberries: Himalayan and Evergreen are invasive imports.  (I used to work on a farm with Thornless, Evergreen blackberry fields.  I thought the flavor was okay.  Himalayan better, and Trailing the best ever!)  If you are lucky to come upon a patch of these natives in fruit, stop and pick.  You will have a blackberry pie that will spoil you forever.

If you are doing your own scouting for wildflowers in the wild, here are some books I recommend: 


There are great botanical tomes on Plant Taxonomy, but I feel those are best left to the botanist.  Since wildflowers are sometimes quite regional, it is best to check with your local bookstore, Extension Office, Wildflower Societies, community college or university botanists for their recommendation of identification books.


  1. I might just have to pick up one of these guides...I am the worst when it comes to identifying flowers.

  2. Interesting to see that we have the same wildflowers that you show here.