Chicory

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This is a wildflower that I frequently see blooming along roadsides at this time of the year. It produces sky blue flowers after living through one winter. These plants actually prefer being near hot rocks or other debris in the soil – this is one reason it thrives along edges.

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Around here Chicory seems to spring up everywhere with its bright blue dandelion-like flowers that open and close with the sun. It has a long blooming period from mid-Summer into Fall.

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Its stems are thick and strong and 2 to 5 feet tall with few small long, narrow, and often upright leaves. This plant is not native to the United States, but has distribution all around the world.

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Chicory has been in cultivation since the days of ancient Egypt. Horticulture enthusiast and president Thomas Jefferson planted Chicory in his gardens, recommending it in a letter to George Washington as “one of the greatest acquisitions a farmer can have.”

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Many varieties are cultivated for salad leaves, in addition, its roots can be baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive.

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Chicory is also known as blue daisy, blue dandelion, blue sailors, blue weed, bunk, coffeeweed, cornflower, hendibeh, horseweed, ragged sailors, succory, wild bachelor’s buttons, and wild endive

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Pickerelweed

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Pickerelweed is an aquatic plant which grows to about two feet tall. It can be found growing shallow freshwater, such as marshes, pond edges, lakes, and streamsides. The leaves of this plant are large and heart-shaped, growing up to 10 inches long.

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This plant is most often recognized by its beautiful flowers. Pickerelweed has large spikes with clusters of violet-blue flowers. Each flower is small, less than half an inch wide. It has a small yellow spot on one petal.

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The nectar from their flowers attracts many insects, including bees and butterflies. Pickerelweed blooms mainly in late Summer and early Autumn. Bees and other insects pollinate the flowers. After a flower has been pollinated, it dies and a fruit grows.

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The each fruit contains a seed. The seeds serve as a food source for ducks and muskrats. The leaves of this plant are eaten by Muskrat, White-tailed Deer and waterfowl.

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The parts of the plant that are underwater provide habitat for tiny water creatures. Pickerel Weed is utilized by humans too, as a landscaping plant in water gardens.

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St. John’s Wort

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This plant is a shrub-like perennial herb with bright yellow flowers. It is an invasive species native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. Colonists brought it to the United States, where it now grows widely.

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The parts of the plant used in herbal remedies are taken from the flowering tops. St. John’s Wort has been shown to be effective in treating mild to moderate depression and causes fewer side effects than older types of antidepressants.

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St. John’s Wort common name comes from its traditional flowering and harvesting on St John’s Day (June 24). The genus name Hypericum is derived from the Greek words hyper (above) and eikon (picture), in reference to the plant’s traditional use in warding off evil by hanging plants over a religious icon.

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This plant is distinguished by its almost woody base, opposite leaves, bright yellow flowers and leaves with transparent dots. It produces flower clusters are at ends of branches with each flower measuring about an inch across.

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St. John’s Wort is commonly found in dry, gravely soils, fields, pastures, abandoned fields and in other sunny locations throughout many parts of the world. I’ve seen it in Brecksville Reservation as well as at Canalway Visitor Center.

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Blue Lobelia

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This blue counterpart of the Cardinal Flower blooms bright blue in late summer. Lobelias have 2-lipped flowers with a 2-lobed upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip.

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The preference is wet to moist soil and partial sun. I often see it at this time of the year growing along the Ohio & Erie Canal.

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The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract primarily bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. Its species name, siphilitica, is a reference to the old folk medicine belief that extracts made from the plant could cure syphilis.

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Great Blue Lobelia is one of my favorite plants and it provides some welcome diversity with its violet-blue flowers during late Summer or Fall.

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Turtlehead

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Turtlehead is also known as balmony, bitter herb, codhead, fish mouth, shellflower, snakehead, snake mouth and turtle bloom.

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Its scientific name is Chelone glabra. In Greek mythology, there was a nymph named Chelone who insulted the gods; in punishment, she was turned into a turtle. The flowers of this plant are said to look like the heads of turtles. In Latin glabra means smooth, because of the texture of this plant’s stems and leaves.

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I found these examples on the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath. Turtlehead is usually found along stream banks on damp ground and typically grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet. Turtlehead serves as the primary host plant for the very rare Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly, Maryland’s official state insect.

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Its flowers are in a densely packed spike at the top of the main stem. It has narrow, sharp-toothed, opposite leaves.

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This member of the Figwort/Snapdragon family has distinctive, two lipped tubular flowers are 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. The upper lip arches over the lower lip, creating the resemblance to a turtle’s head.

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White Snakeroot

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White Snakeroot usually occurs in and around shady woodlands. It is a common and well-known Fall wildflower that has flat-topped clusters of small fuzzy white flower heads. The flower heads eventually transform to black seeds with silken parachutes attached to carry them away. The leaves are long, large-toothed and somewhat heart-shaped on long stems.

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It’s fitting that this wildflower grows along the edge of Snake Road in southern Illinois. White Snakeroot contains the toxin trematol, responsible for “milk sickness,” which caused problems for the livestock of early European settlers and killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother in 1818. When eaten, the toxins will pass into milk produced by animals that ingest the plant, and the tainted milk can fatally poison humans.

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This is one of the last wildflowers to bloom during the Fall. The flowers are often fragrant and their nectar attracts a variety of insects.

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The common name of this species derives from the erroneous belief among early settlers that the bitter roots were beneficial in the treatment of snakebite. In fact, the foliage and roots are highly toxic.

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Black-eyed Susan

How about that storm? After 36 hours without power, it’s nice to have heat and light again. Ever wonder about one of America’s favorite wildflowers?  Who was Black-eyed Susan?  Her story is one of the grand romantic tales of the wildflowers. Legend says it comes from an Old English poem of the post-Elizabethan era entitled “Black-eyed Susan.”

These plants are most easily recognized by their flowers, which are yellow with a brownish-purple center. Black-eyed Susans grow in open woods, gardens, fields, and roadsides. They grow quickly in just about any kind of soil.

They are a pioneer plant; this means that they are one of the first plants to grow in a new field. For example, if a fire burns down part of a forest, this plant will be one of the first to recolonize the charred land.

Black-eyed Susans generally bloom from June to October. They are considered beautiful plants and many people include them in their gardens, where they attract butterflies. Birds also enjoy their ripe seeds.

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Autumn Sneezeweed

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of this plant, which is a type of aster with clusters of up to 100 flower heads on each plant. The flowers are usually about an inch wide.

The common name is based on the former use of its dried leaves in making snuff, inhaled to cause sneezing that would supposedly rid the body of evil spirits. As the other part of its name implies, Autumn Sneezeweed blooms in late summer or fall.

Its Latin name, Helenium autumnale, is thought to have been named for Helen of Troy. The legend is that the flowers sprung up from the ground where her tears fell.

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