Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Last Friday was a gorgeous long day, not unlike today, or yesterday for that matter, but last Friday was the day I chose to drive to the Overland Park Arboretum. You can see beautiful landscapes like this...

...but for some reason I was completely entranced with a yellow flowering weed/wildflower I was seeing on the trails throughout the woods. This plant was a couple feet high in the shade...

...but it was huge (huge!) when it was growing in sunny areas...so huge it couldn't keep itself upright.

The flowers were either spiky balls of green or spiky balls of yellow or spiky balls of yellow with a few attached long petals.

Some of the flowers had all of their petals but I sort of preferred the crazy and unbalanced look of just a few petals attached randomly to the center.

I'm pretty good about paying attention to flowering weeds (or wildflowers if I like them) but I don't ever remember seeing this particular plant before...and a lot of these plants were 8 feet tall! Turns out the name of this plant is wingstem (or Verbesina alternifolia). I don't fully understand why it's called wingstem, something about wings on the stems. I'm not going to think about it too much because the reasoning behind some plant names is just too bewildering.

But the other thing I really liked about this plant was that there were so many butterflies visiting the flowers. It was like they were in a trance because they were so focused on all the yellow around them. This silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) had no problem ignoring me and my camera.

I think this is the first monarch I've seen this year. She was pretty patient with me and my camera too, calm enough to turn away after I took this picture. I think this is the only one I got that has her head in it.

This is more in line with what I got, another butt shot.

That wingstem, when it covered a large area of ground, was just so amazingly crazy with its over the top yellowness. Everything else in the woods was starting to brown up and give up for the summer but not the wingstem. It was making quite a loud statement of yellowness in contrast to everything else around it. I decided I needed to grow a lot of it (even if it does look more like a weed than a wildflower). I could not get over all that yellow...and the butterflies!

On Sunday I went to my land in Kansas and found lots and lots of yellow there too. Sunflowers, brown-eyed Susans, goldenrod....

...but way, way back....far away from everything else...growing near the entrance to the woods... was one single wingstem plant. Small, well eaten and with just three or four flowers, but I had one wingstem growing on my land! What a happy discovery. Seriously, I was so happy to find that weedy looking butterfly magnet growing there.

This little soldier beetle is clutching his chest with perklemptness because he too had made a wonderful discovery. So much yellow. So many flowers!

Or maybe he's clutching his chest from a bad case of heartburn......

...because there's soooooo much yellow and sooooooo many flowers.

And even more to come.


Rural Rambler said...

Maria a butterfly butt shot and it looks like a bee butt shot. Don't know why but it just hits me funny this Wednesday morning. We had to go to St. Lou yesterday and we saw oh so much yellow in the fields. And more dang traffic than I have seen in quite some time and we used to live there, thank heavens we moved. Your pictures are a treat this morning. You must be livin' right to have a teeny wingstem on your land!

I have a plant that I just know you could tell me what the heck it is. I have googled and I have checked out Missouri Wildflowers. It is probably some very common flower/whatever the heck. It is going to show up in a post about the arbor CH built to the west pasture. If I ever stop procrastinatin' and get it blogged!

Maria said...

Procrastinatin' Pix-I'll stop by and see if I can figure out what your wildflower is when you post something. Not that I can promise anything. I ID my plants from a few books I own but mostly from state wildflower websites.

See if any of these sites help...


And www.gardenweb.com is always a good one when you're stumped....might take a long time for someone to get back to you but I've been impressed with the IDs I've gotten.


Rural Rambler said...

Thanks for the links Maria, I will check them out this morning. Three or four of them popped up in the yard this year all by their little flower selves.

Eve said...

I love yellow Maria! I think yellow is my favorite wildflower color. I'm going to have to look around for this one. Thanks for the great info to get started on.
It's really cool that you found the plant in your own woods!