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This is a species that I recently found growing in my front lawn. I have also noticed it in bloom in a few of the local metroparks.

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Hawkweed is a fibrous-rooted perennial with upright stems and small, dandelion-like flower heads in loose clusters. A European species, it is invasive in northwestern and northeastern North America.

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This plant is found mostly in open fields, mountain meadows, forest clearings, permanent pastures, cleared timber units, abandoned farmland, roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is typically encountered where soil is well-drained, coarse-textured and low in nutrients.

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Hawkweed, with their 10,000+ recorded species and subspecies, do their part to make the Aster Family the second largest family of flowering plants. I mostly see all-yellow types and orange types – their flowers are less than one inch across.

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Its two-to-five-inch leaves mostly surround the base of the plant and are pointed or rounded at the tip and toothless. All parts of Hawkweed are conspicuously hairy and like Dandelion, will exude a white milky sap when broken.

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Since most Hawkweed reproduce exclusively asexually by means of seeds that are genetically identical to their mother plant, clones or populations that consist of genetically identical plants are formed.

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This plant is also known as Devil’s Paintbrush, Red daisy and Orange King-devil.

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Dame’s Rocket

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This non-native species is hard to ignore. It has even established itself on our backyard. Dame’s Rocket, also known as Dame’s Violet and Mother-of-the-evening, was introduced as an ornamental around the time of European settlement.

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Dame’s Rocket bears loose clusters of attractive, fragrant, pinkish-purple to white four-petaled flowers on two-to-four foot stems. Its leaves are arranged alternately on the stem and are slightly hairy and lance-shaped with toothed margins.

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This plant’s habitat includes open woodlands, prairies, roadsides, ditches and other disturbed areas. The plant’s three-month-long blooming period and ability to set abundant seed have contributed to its spread. A single plant produces up to 20,000 seeds.

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Dame’s Rocket is often confused with Garden Phlox, because the flower colors, clustered blooms and bloom time are similar. However, Garden Phlox has flowers with five petals (Dame’s Rocket has four).

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Although problematic because is displaces native plants and it considered an invasive species (five states have placed legal restrictions on it), this member of the Mustard Family is a food source for caterpillars as well as a nectar source for bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds.

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Maximilian Sunflower

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While visiting “The Wilds” in south-central Ohio, it was hard not to notice this eye-catching plant.

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This North American species of sunflower is named for Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, who encountered it on his travels in North America.

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Though native to the Great Plains in central North America, is has naturalized in the eastern and western parts of the continent. It is now found from British Columbia to Maine, south to the Carolinas, Chihuahua and California.

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Maximilian Sunflower was one of several plant species used in research to evaluate native perennial wildflower plantings for supporting wild bees and improving crop pollination on farmlands.

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This plant grows in a variety of environments throughout its range including meadows, tallgrass prairies, plains, roadsides, ditches and disturbed sites. It prefers full sun and tolerates a range of soil types.

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Its numerous bright yellow 3-inch flowers are found on the upper half of its unbranched stems. Maximilian Sunflower’s leaves are 4 to 8 inches in length and taper at both ends.

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Its flowers attract a variety of pollinators and the abundant supply of seeds that it produces are hard to resist for many species of birds.

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Deptford Pink

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This is not a native plant, but it’s hard not to like it. It native to most of Europe. The name “Deptford Pink” was coined in the 17th century by naturalist Thomas Johnson, who described a pink flower growing in Deptford in South East London.

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This species usually grows in full sunlight in dry conditions. It appears to flourish in a clay-loam or gravelly soil that is somewhat compacted and heavy. Hard to identify when not in bloom, its grass-like leaves are up to 3 inches long and 1/8 inch wide and are finely hairy around the edges, especially near the base.

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Deptford Pink’s flowers are solitary or in clusters of 3 to 6 at the top of the stem and the occasional branching stem in the upper plant. The nectar of the flowers attracts small butterflies, skippers, long-tongued bees and bee flies. The intensity of their bright pink color masks the great beauty of their extravagant patterning.

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Despite the intensity of the coloration, it is interesting to note that the name “pink” probably derives from the loosely serrated edges of the flowers’ petals (think “pinking shears” rather than the color pink).

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It is hard to call a flower as dainty and attractive as the Deptford Pink “invasive.” In fact, the skinny-leaved plant usually behaves well, mixing invisibly into the weedy wildflowers and vegetation of dry fields.

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Queen Anne’s Lace

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Queen Anne’s Lace earned its common name from a legend that tells of Queen Anne of England (1665-1714) pricking her finger and a drop of blood landing on white lace she was sewing.

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Its flowers are small and have five white petals that form umbrella-shaped clusters that are between two to five inches in diameter. Often, one to several dark purple flowers appear in the center of each cluster.

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Although common along North America’s roadsides, this plant is native to temperate regions of Europe and southwest Asia, and naturalized to North America and Australia.

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This flower’s Latin name is Daucus carota and domestic carrots are a cultivar of a subspecies of this plant. Early Europeans cultivated Queen Anne’s Lace and the Romans ate it as a vegetable. American colonists boiled and ate its taproots.

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Queen Anne’s Lace’s flower clusters start out curled up and eventually opens to allow pollination. Over time, as the flower matures, the cluster curls inward forming a cup-like bird’s nest when it goes to seed at the end of the season. This flower can grow to over three feet tall.

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Its feathery leaves resemble those of the domestic carrot. Queen Anne’s Lace is found in fields, meadows, waste areas, roadsides and disturbed habitats. It is very hardy and thrives in a dry environment.

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This plant is also known as Wild Carrot, Bishop’s Lace, Bee’s Nest, Bird’s Nest, Devil’s Plague, Lace Flower and Rantipole.

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Round-leaved Sundew

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I don’t usually think of Ohio when I think about carnivorous plants, but we have two types in Wooster, this one and the Pitcher Plant.

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The insect-eating lifestyle of the Round-leaved Sundew makes this plant a fascinating species. The round three-quarter inch leaves have sticky, tendrils with droplets of “dew.” This tempts unsuspecting prey.

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The main habitat for this plant is bogs and their acidic habitat doesn’t provide enough nutrients., so it catches and eats insects.

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Round-leaved Sundew’s droplets are very sticky and this traps insects; when the presence of its stuck prey it detected, its leaf curls inwards to engulf it.

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Its scientific name is Drosera rotundifolia. The term “droseros” is Greek for “dewy” and refers to the moist, glistening drops on the leaves. The term “rodundifolia” means “round leaves.”

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Though tiny and easy to overlook, this is a really cool plant to encounter in the wild.

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Birds-foot Trefoil

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While driving around northeast Ohio, it seems that this small perennial flower is lining just about every roadway.

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Birds-foot Trefoil belongs to the same family as pea and bean plants. Its showy, pea-like flowers are only about a half an inch across.

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This plant was introduced from Europe as a cultivated forage crop. It is widely planted for erosion control along newly built roads.

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Although its flowers start out as a bright lemon yellow, over time they can turn red-orange with age.

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Birds-foot Trefoil common name refers to its seedpods, which when grouped together look like a bird’s foot and are slender and purple. Five leaflets are present, but with the central three held conspicuously above the others, hence the use of the name “trefoil.”

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This plant can survive fairly close grazing, trampling, and mowing. Birds-foot Trefoil is most often found in sandy soils. It flowers from June to September and is a source of nectar for several different kinds of butterflies and bees.

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This plant is also known as Bloomfell, Cat’s Clover, Crowtoes, Eggs and Bacon and Birdsfoot Deervetch.

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Wild Potato Vine

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While hiking in a Pine Barrens habitat in coastal Maryland, the flowers of what looked like an over-sized Morning Glory caught my attention.

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Wild Potato Vine is a twining plant which features heart-shaped leaves and funnel-shaped white flowers that are 2 to 3 inches across with maroon centers.

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This plant gets its “potato” namesake because its large, tuberous roots can be roasted and eaten. Some of the tubers can reach 30 inches long, be 5 inches thick and weight over 20 pounds.

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Wild Potato Vine habitat includes upland woods, the edges of prairies bordering woodlands, thickets, stream-sides and disturbed ground, like railroad and highway borders.

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It is host to Long-tongued Bees, Bumblebees and Digger Bees as well as nectar-seeking butterflies and moths. Tortoise Beetles, the the Sweet Potato Flea Beetle and the Sweet Potato Leaf Beetle feed on its leaves.

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Wild Potato Vine is also known as known as Man of the Earth, Manroot, Wild Sweet Potato and Wild Rhubarb.

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Poison Ivy

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While visiting southern Illinois, I had several instances when I came across this plant, which belongs to the same family as mangoes and cashews. All three of these types produce urushiol, the compound that causes an itchy rash.

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Every part of the Poison Ivy (leaves, stems and roots) is poisonous, so not only should it not be touched, it should not be burned. With burning, the urushiol becomes volatilized in the smoke and you can get it in your lungs, which is very dangerous and can even lead to death.

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Scientists speculate urushiol evolved as an antimicrobial defense agent. Birds, deer, squirrels, reptiles and insects are not affected by it. In humans, contact with Poison Ivy causes a reaction known as a cell-mediated immune response. The rash it causes is a result of your immune system attacking its own skin cells.

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Poison Ivy fruit, called drupes, are an important food for wildlife. Over 60 types of birds eat Poison Ivy berries. Deer and insects eat the leaves.

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“Leaves of three, let it be; berries white, take flight” is a familiar saying to help identify and avoid Poison Ivy, though its characteristics are very diverse and change in different habitats.

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This plant often follows civilization, cropping up in disturbed sites like cut banks, roadsides and old fence rows. It prefers woodland borders and clearings and shuns the dense forest. Despite its common name, it is not a true ivy.

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For those who are allergic to the plant, its benefits are often overlooked. Poison Ivy is an early colonizer, often taking hold in areas disturbed by humans and it begins the slow process of rebuilding the landscape. It requires very little nourishment or moisture and it attracts and sustains a variety of wildlife.

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Multiflora Rose

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This is an unavoidable invasive species that I encounter on my northeast Ohio hikes. It is native to eastern Asia, and naturally found in China, Japan and Korea.

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In the 1950′s, it was common to plant Multiflora Rose as a “living fence,” which was more permanent and economical than a wire fence. These days it is common in uncultivated fields, fencerows and open woods.

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This is a perennial shrub with arching, thorny stems that climbs over other plants, reaching up to 15 feet tall and forming dense thickets. It’s flowers are often in clusters and may be pink or white; they tend to bloom here in Summer.

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Typically, they have seven leaflets per leaf, but can they can also have between five and eleven leaflets. The two-inch long leaflets are oval and sharply toothed.

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Their small, bright red fruit, referred to as “rose hips,” develop in the Summer and remain on the shrub through the winter.

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Multiflora Rose spreads aggressively, both by rooting canes (the ends of branches that root when coming in contact with the ground) and by seeds dispersed by birds and wildlife.

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This is a very difficult plant to control. A plant may produce a million seeds per year, and the sseds can remain viable for 20 years.

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This plant is also known as Baby Rose, Japanese Rose, Many-flowered Rose, Seven-sisters Rose, Eijitsu Rose and Rambler Rose.

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