Plants and More Plants
It's back! My wandering wildflower book is back on my shelf so I'm hot and heavy into wildflowers again this week.
Although they are fading as the summer heat pushes many local wildflowers into the seed bearing stage, flipping through the photos on my computer is a colorful experience.
However, I must admit my hiking area has diminshed (well, moved) lately with the recent bear sightings. However, this is a good thing as I'm exploring new areas and photographing new delights.
So, here they are. Just as a reminder, the first ten wildflowers are described in a blog from three weeks ago. Flowers eleven to twenty are described in a blog from two weeks ago. This week we will focus on flowers twenty-one to thirty.
- 1. Blue Violet
- 2. Paintbrush
- 3. Cushion Flox
- 4. Wood's Forget-me-not
- 5. Sticky Geranium
- 6. Gaillardia
- 7. Wood's Rose
- 8. Cow Parsnip
- 9. Showy Fleabane
- 10. Prairie Smoke
- 11. Few-Flowered Shooting Star
- 12. Sulfur Buckwheat
- 13. Lanceleaf Stonecrop
- 14. Spurred Lupine
- 15. Mountain Sorrel
- 16. Hound's Tongue
- 17. Pennycress
- 18. Chives
- 19. Sugarbowl
- 20. Tall Cinquefoil
- 21. Oregon Grape
- 22. Western Gromwell
- 23. Chokecherry
- 24. Mountain Bluebells
- 25. Rocky Mountain Iris
- 26. False Solomon's Seal
- 27. Rosy Pussytoes
- 28. Elk Thistle
- 29. Yellow Salsify
- 30. Sego Lily
Things I Already Knew: A low growing plant which reminds me of holly, I suspect the yellow flowers which turn into small blue colored grape-like clusters are where it gets its name. This plant is usually found on the forest floor where it benefits from the cooler temperatures and shade.
Things I Recently Learned: A member of the shrub family, the Oregon Grape is a low, spreading evergreen shrub which matures less than one foot tall. The tart berries have been used in jellies and wine. This plant is fairly deer-tolerant (which is nice for areas where deer regularly over-prune the flowers) and it makes a good ground cover for cold climates.
The American Indians used the yellow inner bark as a dye. They also used the roots to treat stomach troubles, to prevent bloody dysentary, and as a blood purifier. Mixed with whisky, it was used for bladder problems, venereal diseases, general aches, and kidney problems. Preparations of the entire plant were considered something of a cure-all. They were also used as a lotion to treat scorpion bites. Now, that's interesting. I wouldn't expect scorpions and Oregon Grape to live anywhere near each other!
Things I Already Knew: Well, frankly, not very much. This isn't a plant with which I am at all familiar. In fact, having taken dozens of pictures of some plants, I find I only have one of this plant. I did expect it to be in the 'shrub' category, but it wasn't.
Things I Recently Learned: A member of the Borage family (which includes pretty plants like Hound's Tongue, and pesky plants like Stickseeds), Western Gromwell is a bushy plant (that's where I got the shrub idea) which grows 10 - 20 inches tall.
The roots contain a purple dye. In fact, it must have been fairly commonly used by the American Indians since an Indian name for the plant is Puccoon which means 'a plant containing a dye'. Some American Indians also used the cooked roots as a food, to make tea for controlling internal bleeding, treating skin and eye problems, and as a contraceptive.
That aside, the most interesting piece of "Gromwell" trivia I read was, this plant, when chewed, was blown into a sleepy person's face to keep them awake. I suspect, if someone blew chewed up plant particles in my face, I'd not only stay awake - I'd move farther away from them!
Things I Already Knew: This plant produces edible, albeit very sour (as their name implies) fruit which can be used in jams and jellies. It grows as a shrubby tree and seems to prefer quite a bit of sunshine.
Things I Recently Learned: This plant is native to North America found nearly everywhere except the deep south and the far north. While the berries are very sour and even create a dry mouth, they are very high in antioxidant pigment compounds.
Wild chokecherry is often considered a pest since it is the host plant for the tent caterpillar which is a threat to other fruit plants. However, there are cultivated forms of the plant which are not host plants and produce less astrigent berries.
The Native Americans ground the fruit's pulp and kernels together then formed them into patties or balls. This paste was also combined with buffalo meat and fat to make pemmican. The fruit was also dried. Tea made from the bark was used as a cold rememdy. Tea made from the roots was used as a sedative and stomach remedy.
Things I Already Knew: This is a delicate-appearing plant which seems to prefer moist stream banks and shady meadows. This pretty plant produces clusters of intensely blue flowers from which it obviously got its name.
Things I Recently Learned: Another likeable member of the Borage Family, mature Mountain Bluebell flowers turn pink and a style protrudes from the bell.
Mountain Bluebell flowers are edible raw. The leaves are, as well, but becuase they are rather hairy, they become more palatable when cooked.
American Indians used an infusion of the leaves for smallpox and measels. An infusion of the entire plant was taken by women after child birth to increase their milk flow. An infusion of the powdered roots was taken for the itching caused from smallpox.
Rocky Mountain Iris
Things I Already Knew (or thought I knew): This short-lived but showy plant can be abundant in meadows and along stream banks some years. It grows from a bulb. In cultivated versions, the Iris comes in a rainbow of color. I think this plant's color must be affected by moisture. The wild specimens I've seen are usually light to dark blue and even a purplish hue. This year they were nearly white.
Things I Recently Learned: Rocky Mountain Iris, aka Missouri Iris or Blueflag, can come in colors from pale blue to dark blue with purple lines and yellow center stripes. Meriwether Lewis collected a specimen in 1806 near Ovando, Montana.
The roots and young shoots of this plant are toxic and cause a burning sensation, difficulty breating, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some people even have allergic skin reactions to the plant.
None-the-less, the ever resourceful Native American's found several uses for the plant. An arrow poison was made from ground up roots. The roots were used to induce vomiting, as a temporary toothache remedy, and for other tooth and gum problems. An infusion was used to treat bladder and kidney complaints and stomach ache. Other uses were for sores and burns, to treat earaches, and for rheumatic joints.
One more piece of Iris trivia: The roasted seeds can be used as a coffee substitute (okay - seeds - makes me wonder if this plant doesn't grow from a bulb like I supposed)
False Solomon's Seal
Things I Already Knew: This plant prefers shady, forested settings. It is a low growing plant with leaves which almost tend to dwarf the pretty little, erect growing flowers.
Things I Recently Learned: False Solomon's Seal, aka False Spikenard, is drought resistant, pest resistant, and produces fragrant flowers. It is cultivated for flower gardens and prefers shady areas.
Common medicinal uses include a root tea for constipation and upset stomach, as well as leaf tea to quiet coughs and aid in contraception. The leaf tea is also used topically to reduce the discomfort from itching and rash.
Things I Already Knew: A very small flower which seems to enjoy cooler locations, the Rosy Pussytoes is exactly the kind of plant I have often overlooked. However, after carefully examination, I can't imagine why I didn't notice this unique little flower. The flowers grow from a creeping surface base and the stems have few to no leaves.
Things I Recently Learned: Would you believe this unassuming flower is part of the Sunflower Family? I would never have made that connection! This plant is also called Littleleaf Pussytoes, Cat's Feet, Ladies' Tobacco, and Everlasting. The generic name for the plant is Antennaria. This was chosen because the flower heads resemble insect antennae.
I could not find any medicinal uses for this plant. Although it is cultivated for ornamental use, it doesn't appear to have any other specific use nowdays - nor, for that matter, in times past.
Things I Already Knew: A thistle-type plant which I assumed (more on that in a moment) was part of the 'thistle' family. A unique compact-looking thistle with impressive flowers (some years) years which accompany its always impressive thorns. Occasionally cattle will eat the tops of this plant although I've heard it can be poisonous to them at certain times of the year. Seems to prefer lots of sun (don't most thistles?).
Things I Recently Learned: Elk Thistle is NOT a member of a thistle family. It is a member of - okay, get this - the Sunflower family. This posting has three sunflower family members - none which I would have guessed to be so.
This native plant is a short-lived perennial. It is also known as "Meadow Thistle." It grows on an impressive 8 to 40 inch tall stem (locally Elk Thistle typically grows about 2 feet tall).
Elk Thistle's buds were eaten by some Native Americans. The peeled stems and roots are edible. They have a sweet delicate taste. In fact, the Flathead Indians liked the plant so much they imposed a taboo to prevent people from overpicking this plant.
Here's another interesting piece of Elk Thistle trivia: In Yellowstone National Park, this plant may be called "Evert's Thistle" in memory of Truman Everts, an explorer who lost his way in the park in 1870 and subsisted on mostly thistle roots until his rescue.
Things I Already Knew: An erect growing plant with a short lived flower followed by large (baseball-size) white puffy globe which resembles a giant dandelion. Although it has no stickers, I've always thought of this plant as a type of thistle - I suspect because it seems to prefer dry, sunny locations.
Things I Recently Learned: Yellow Salsify is another unexpected member of the Sunflower Family. Although the flowers arguably resemble sunflowers, the plant and its seed pods look more like dandelions.
An introduced biennial, this plant came over from Europe. The flowers are closed on cloudy days but on sunny days they follow the sun from morning until they close in mid-afternoon.
Yellow Salsify roots are edible, raw or cooked. The plant's stems, when young, as well as the leaves are also edible either raw or cooked. There do not appear to be any known medicinal uses for this plant.
Things I Already Knew: A very erect standing flower which prefers dry, rocky, sunny hillsides. Grows about 12 inches tall. I've only seen it open when the sun is shining. Very PRETTY!
Things I Recently Learned: The Sego Lily, aka Nuttall's Mariposa Lily, is Utah's state flower. Officially named in 1911, this beautiful flower was chosen because its sweet, starchy, bulblike roots helped relieve the famine faced by Brigham Young and his followers in 1847.
Native to several western states, the bulbs of this and other related lilies, were roasted, boiled, and made into porridge by Native Americans. Currently it is grown for ornamental purposes.
This plant's Greek generic name, Calochortus, is a derivative of kato which means beautiful, and chortos which means grass. "Sego" is a Shoshonean term which means 'edible bulb'.
One last interesting tidbit: In 1806 near present-day Kamiah, Idaho, Meriwether Lewis collected the first specimen of this plant for science.
Well, that's the end of this week's plant species lesson. I trust you are still enjoying this educational excursion. As summer lengthens and fall begins to peak around the corner, the flowers fade. However, returning to the photographs I've taken is not only an educational delight and a delight to the eyes - it is a mini trip down memory lane. As I relive my spring and summer excursions, I'm again reminded of how blessed I am to be the
Lady of the Lake