For the first time ever, I am joining in on Wildflower Wednesday, hosted the fourth Wednesday of every month by Gail at Clay and Limestone. I haven't participated before because I don't have many wildflowers in my garden, but in the summer there is an abundance of
weeds wildflowers on our farm. One of my favorites is chicory with its daisy-like blue blooms.
Cichorium intybus, a member of the Aster family, grows up to 3' tall and blooms from June to October. Flower heads are up to 1 1/2" across and emerge all along the stem.
Chicory was used as a medicinal herb, vegetable, and salad plant in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times. Since the 17th century, dried, roasted, ground roots have been used as a coffee substitute. Chicory is a gentle, but effective bitter tonic, which increases the flow of bile and is used to treat gallstones. (Kurz, Illinois Wildflowers)
Chicory grows freely here and makes a nice companion plant to another favorite of mine, the wild carrot.
Daucus carota, or Wild Carrot, is more popularly known by the name Queen Anne's Lace, which refers to "Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, who loved fine clothes and lace" (Kurz). Although it is the ancestor of the cultivated carrot of today, its root is white, not orange, due to a lack of beta carotene. Tea made from the root of Wild Carrot was once used as a diuretic.
Some might question whether Thistle could be classified as a wildflower, since it is usually labelled as a noxious weed. But since it is included in my wildflower book, I'll feature it here. There are several kinds of thistle which all look similar to me. This one looks like Tall Thistle, which can grow as tall as 8 feet. The pink flowers are attractive to bees and goldfinches and are often seen in prairie plantings.
Constant rain the past two weeks has made everything grow like...um, well, weeds. The purple coneflowers are early this year, and while Echinacea purpurea is not a wildflower, its ancestor Echinacea pallida, prairie coneflower, is. Prairie coneflowers can still be seen in virgin prairies or in prairie restorations.
Soggy conditions here at the Prairie have brought out many other wild things as well. Can you guess what has caught Sophie's attention?
Why, it's Mr. Toad! Judging from the size of this guy, he has found plenty of insects to dine on in my garden. I wonder if he likes earwigs . . .
Prettier wild things are also making their appearance in the garden. I've been so happy to see the increase in the number of butterflies this year. The Red Admirals are especially prolific, but other species have been flying about as well, including the first Monarchs of the season. Parsley, fennel, dill, and butterfly weed were planted once again this year for their dining pleasure.
Dragonflies are not as common here, but they like the damp, and between the muddy garden and the ponds in the fields, they have found much to their liking right now. Not a very good picture, but they refused to land very long for me to snap a photo.
Again, several species have been about, including this larger one with black and clear wings. He looks a little like a big jumbo jet about to take off, doesn't he?
Much more willing to pose for a photo session was this lovely damselfly. In fact, while I stopped to adjust the settings on my camera, she flew up and landed on the edge of my camera! I think she wanted to offer some photographic suggestions, because after I moved on, she followed me for awhile, flying inches from my shoulder. I just wish she would have taken my advice and posed on some flowers rather than on the weeds and wild violets she seems to prefer.
It's another hot, muggy day here in Illinois with a heat index predicted over 100 degrees. While it's not raining--for once!--the heat may keep me indoors rather than out where the wild things are.
For other postings on wildflowers, do stop by to visit native enthusiast Gail.