Spring is a magical time in Duff Park when the wildflowers unfold their beauty creating a wondrous display of color and form transforming winter's bleak landscape to a dazzling brilliance.
Spring Flowers of Duff Park
Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)
An early spring bloomer, spring beauty has five white petals with fine pink stripes varying from pale to bright pink. It is often found growing in masses in moist woodlands and clearings with a bloom period that extends an entire month.
Flowers Mar-May; Ht: 3-6"
Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
With a flower that resembles breeches once worn by Dutchman, Dutchman's breeches are found in abundance on wooded slopes. An oily appendage on the seeds is a favored food of ants. Ants carry the seed to their nests, eat the appendage and the remaining seed germinates in the medium rich ant nest debris.
Flowers Apr-May; Ht: 4-8"
Found in rich, moist woodlands, Virginia bluebell's bell-shaped flowers turn form pink to violet-blue as they mature.
Flowers Mar-May; Ht: 12-24"
Taking up to seven years for this plant to bloom, trout lily can form large colonies if left undisturbed over the course of many years. A mottled leaf pattern suggests the speckled side of a brook or brown trout.
Flowers Mar-May; Ht: 4-10"
Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna)
Blue and white bi-colored flowers make for an easy identification of this early bloomer. As an indicateor species that tolerates very little disturbance, its presence denotes woodlands of high quality.
Flowers Apr-Jun; Ht: 6-24"
With a life cycle of only six to eight weeks, the spring ephemerals awake, leaf-out, bloo, seed and then retreat to dormancy by early summer until the following spring when the cycle repeats. Spring ephemerals include trillium, spring beauty, Dutchman's breeches, Virginia bluebell, trout lily, and blue-eyed Mary.
These woodland plants take advantage of the short period in early spring when the days lengthen, soil warms, air temperatures increase, and sunlight streams to the forest floor unfiltered by the leafless canopy.
Mayapple has palmately lobed leaves with two growth forms: a single umbrella-like leaf without flowers and two-leaved plants with a single flower. The plant colonizes by means of a rhizome root system. All parts of the plant are toxic except the ripe fruit.
Flowers Apr-Jun; Ht: 6-18"
The showiest of native geraniums, wild geranium is a popular choice for the home wildflower garden. It is easy to grow with nursery stock readily available.
Flowers Apr-Jun; Ht: 12-24"
False Solomon's Seal
Solomn's seal's delicate white or greenish flowers dangle form the arching leaf axils while the flowers of false Solomn's seal form a cluster at the end of the leaf stalk. Summer berry color is also a distinguishing factor with blue-black for Solomon's seal and red for false Solomon's seal.
The jewel of Duff Park, white trillium is found abundantly on steep slopes where it is protected from grazing white-tailed deer. The flowers, first white, turn pink with age.
Flowers Apr-Jun; Ht: 12-18"
A small pinkish-white spring flower emerging from rhizomes, common in decideous woods with deep litter. The leaves are in whorls of three; each leaf is deepl cut into narrow lobes.
Flowers Apr-Jun; Ht: 3-10"
Squawroot grows parasitically on the roots of trees, especially oak. Lacking both leaves and chlorophyll, it is unable to produce energy on its own and depends on a host tree for survival.
Flowers May-Jun; Ht: 3-8"
A small pinkish-white spring flower emerging from rhizomes, common in deciduous woods with deep litter. The leaves are in whorls of three; each leaf is deeply cut into narrow lobes.
Flowers April-June; Ht: 3-10"
Named for its foul odor, skunk cabbage attracts pollinators with its smell. Found in wetlands, the plant exhibits thermogenesis enabling it to produce heat greater than the surrounding air temperature. This characteristic allows the flowers to surface very early in advance of the leaves.
Flowers Feb-Apr; Ht: 16-22"
Unique in both appearance and growing habit, Jack-in-the-pulpit's stems, leaves, and flowers develop underground, unfolding after emergence. Green berries turn a conspicuous bright red in the fall. It takes three or more years for a plant to produce flowers.
Flowers Apr-Jun; Ht: 8-24"
This beauty's liver red flowers emit an unpleasant smell, a beneficial feature for the fly pollinated plant. As with all trillium, the prefix "tri" refers to the plant's petals, sepals and leaves, all present in threes.
Flowers Apr-Jun; Ht: 7-16"
Sharp-lobed and Round-lobed Hepatica
(Hepatica nobilis acuta and obtusa)
One of the first flowering species, this small, blue, white, or light pink flower is found in rich woodlands with good drainage. New leathery leaves appear after the flowers are setting seed. The leaves stay green or brown/purple through the winter and wither away when hepatica is in bloom.
Flowers Mar-May; Ht: 4-9"
Look for summer wildflowers along woodland edges and open fields where direct sunlight prevails. Few wildflowers are able to grow under the leaf canopy in woodland habitats where sunlight reaching the forest floor is drastically reduced.
Summer Flowers of Duff Park
Growing to impressive heights, joe-pye weed has fragrant purple-pink flowers. It hybridizes easily with other species of Eupatorium, making an accurate identification sometimes difficult. According to the legend, an Native American named Joe Pye treated typhus fever with this plants.
Flowers:Jul-Sept; Ht: 6-8'
Poisonous, this plant becomes less toxic when dried. The Native Americans introduced boneset to the colonists as a remedy for influenza. the name boneset came from its use as a cure for "break bone fever" (dengue fever).
Flowers Jul-Sept; Ht: 2-4'
In a long evolved relationships with common milkweed, female monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of the milkweed leaf. Hatching larvae feed on the plant and ingest a toxin, making them poisonous to predators. Milkweed is not only a host plant for the monarch, but also a nectar source for several butterflies.
Flowers Jun-Aug; Ht: 2-5'
Tall Meadow Rue
Tall meadow rue does not have true petals. Instead, the white portion of the flower that appears to be a petal is actually stamens, which produce pollen.
Flowers: Jul-Sept; Ht: 3-8'
The beautiful flowers of joe-pye weed, milkweeed, boneset, and tall meadow rue attract butterflies, bumble bees, and other pollinators. The pollinators benefit from pollination as the insects move pollen from plant to plant.
Butterflies are attracted to tubular or flat-topped blooms that are pink, red, orange, yellow, blue, or purple in color. These are the colors butterflies can see best. bees, on the other hand, who cannot see the color red, are attracted to fragrant yellow, blue, and white flowers.
A member of the ginseng family, spikenard grows with flowers at the leaf axils producing reddish-purple berries in late summer. Native Americans used the plant medicinally for respiratory disorders.
Flowers Jun-Aug, Ht: 4-5'
This plant's flower head, with 50-100 petal-like rays, closes at night. It is found in fields and open woods.
Flowers May-Jul, Ht: 8-28"
Closely related, jewelweed and yellow touch-me-not are often found growing side by side. The name touch-me-not refers to their explosive seed pods that, when mature, disperse seed forcefully on contact. The common name jewelweed refers to the glistening quality created by the morning dew. The juice from the stems of these plants was used by Native Americans as a salve to relieve the itch from poison ivy or stinging nettle.
With tall spikes of white flowers, black cohosh is a popular wildflower selection for the home perennial garden. Historically, it was a common herb used medicinally for a variety of ailments.
Flowers Jun-Sept, Ht: 3-8'
Arching cream colored plumes resembling the beard of a goat give this plant its name. An admired choice for the perennial border, this low maintenance selection is deer resistant.
Flowers May-Jul, Ht: 3-7'
The entire plant is poisonous to mammals. Birds, however, favor the berries and disperse the seed as it passes through their digestive system intact. Greenish-white flowers give way to dark purple berries in the fall.
Flowers Jul-Sept, Ht: 4-9'
Stinging hairs that cause irritation when in contact with skin, cover the stems of wood nettle. Male flowers are present in the axils of the leaves and female flowers at the plant apex.
Flowers Jul-Aug, Ht: 2-3'
The flowers spikes of white vervain, at times branches, originate from leaf axils. Their flowers bloom sequentially over the course of months, a characteristic that optimizes pollination.
Flowers Jun-Sept, Ht: 3-5'
Together, asters and goldernrods dominate the fall floral landscape. Offering beauty and purpose, they are a welcomed transition as summer progresses into fall.
Fall Flowers of Duff Park
Goldenrod contributes largely to autumn's blaze of yellow flora. Their abundance and rich nectar and pollen source make them a valuable resource for a multitude of insects. Attracting grazers, pollinators, predators, and parasitic insects, goldenrod serves as a food source, host for parasitic insects and feeding grounds for insects preying on other insects. Goldenrod is often falsely blamed for late season allergies. It blooms the same time as the true culprit, ragweed.
The goldenrod gall fly's entire lifecycle takes place on the goldenrod plant. The adult female lay her eggs in the stem of the plant. The hatching larva chews the stem, causing the plant to react by forming a gall. Within the gall, the larva has both a food source and protection throughout the winter.
The adult fly emerges from the gall late in the spring and the cycle emerges.
The longhorned beetle is commonly found on goldenrods.
White Wood Aster
What one typically identifies as a single aster flower is actually a composite of disk and ray flowers. Disk flowers (frequently yellow) are found in the center of the flowering head. Ray flowers (white, pink, or violet) have petals surrounding the disk. Asters provide an important fall food source for insects, which in turn cross pollinate the plant.
Great lobelia has tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Flowers Aug-Sept, Ht: 1-3'
This late bloomer is easily identified by its three-lobed petals. true to its name, the plant causes sneezing and was once used to treat congestion.
Flowers Aug-Oct, Ht: 2-5'
Named for its iron-like qualities, ironweed grows on tall, strong stems. The reddish-purple, flat-topped flowers attract butterflies, particularly swallowtails and sulfurs, although they are shunned by mammals because of their bitter tasting leaves.
Flowers Aug-Sept, Ht: 4-10'
Poisonous, this plant when eaten by cows results in toxic milk causing death to humans when consumed.
Flowers Sept-Oct, Ht: 1-3'
With flowers that resemble the head of a turtle, the flowers are either all white or white tinted with pink. turtlehead adapts beautifully to the home perennial garden.
Flowers Jul-Sept, ht: 1-3'
Winged stems give this plant its name. Wingstem is deer and rabbit resistant and has a bloom that lasts six or more weeks.
Flowers Aug-Sept, Ht: 3-8'