Last Call for Wildflowers

Verbena Hastata--blue vervain
Verbena Hastata–pink vervain –often seen with Joe Pye Weed and Ironweed.

The spring flowering plants tend to get way more of the attention than those in any other season. And there is no great surprise in this.

In spring we have waited across the dull, dreary monochrome months from November to April for some sign of life and color. Bloodroot, Hepatica, Trout Lily and all the usual early spring emergings are the stuff for which Wildflower Pilgrimages and Naturalist Rallies are convened for eager botanists.

Fall wildflowers, not so much. They are the swan song of the season that precedes Winter. We don’t care so much to acknowledge them as their transience hints of our own, perhaps, and why bother fawning over less dainty blooms after a lush summer’s overgrowth?

So I offer a couple of currently blooming lesser players in the wildflower gallery of the Southern Appalachians, just to remind you to keep your eyes open —AND as another reminder to tell your friends about the Goose Creek Afield nature walk here just out our front door–on September 13.

Jumpseed: Persicaria virginiana
Jumpseed: Persicaria virginiana of shaded forest margins.

I am ashamed to say that I have never explored the cause of the common name for this plant but will do so today–to observe the seeds exploding several feet from a ripe seed pod. This plant (also called Virginia Knotweed) is everywhere along our pasture margin now. Have you seen it where you live?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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