Wildflowers that grow in the Mid West USA
Pictures from our "wildflower drive"
Wildflowers are fascinating to me. They are some of nature's truest natural beauties. When I write about wildflowers, I mean flowers that grow, that were not intentionally seeded or planted. They are a true gift of nature, given back to nature and to all of us.
Once, we went on a trip to visit our Aunt and Uncle who live in Missouri. We took a lot of back roads to get out to their property, as it was way way out in the country. Being July, I had no idea what to expect in regards to seeing various flowers. It turned out to be an amazing time to visit.
We enjoyed the Fourth of July with them. The next day though, we went on what I will call a "wildflower drive". The back roads are nearly absent of people and not paved. Neighbors are there, but few and far between. The blooming wildflowers almost took my breath away. They were attracting all kinds of pollinators. Their colors were nearly that of the rainbow! I asked my sweet Aunt, if she minded me continually pulling the car over to take yet another picture. She was enjoying it as much as I was, it turned out. So the majority of the pictures that you are seeing below are from Missouri, in the deep country.
Wildflowers provide a food and nectar source very often for birds and bees and perhaps more. This in turn helps the whole food chain, which in turn helps all of us to have any food at all. Its all connected and a beautiful cycle, to see it at this stage. Never will I take for granted having honey from honeybees, that literally rely on good nectar sources. We truly rely on them to pollinate so many things.
It was interesting to see what grows and where, when no pesticides seem to be present. If there was any, it had to be a trace amount. It seems nature has a way of taking care of itself, though I begrudge no farmer for having to use whatever is needed to help his crop be successful.
Because plants are stationary for the most part, nature had to make a way for the male and female parts of newer flowers to reach each other. Both birds and insects help to fulfill this need in the flowers reproduction, thus our phrase, "the birds and the bees". Flowers need something that is showy and attractive, as if to say, "see me, come here..." etc, etc. Once at the flower, the nectar is an added treat for them.
One of my pictures, is of the Wild Potato Vine, aka Man of the Earth. Its official name is Ipomoea pandurata. Ipomoea, is a word invented by Linnaeus from two Greek words to mean, "like a bindweed". Pandurata, a Latin word means "fiddle shaped", possibly referring to the leaves. Something of particular interest to me, was that Native Americans would boil and eat the tubers. I thought that was very interesting!
Queen Anne's lace, also known as Wild Carrot, was introduced and naturalized in North America. The flower itself, actually resembles lace, and the tiny red flower in the very middle, symbolizes a droplet of blood, "where Queen Anne pricked herself while making the lace". That tiny red flower is there to help attract insects to it. In the past, a teaspoon of fresh seeds was known to help with birth control. It was first described by Hippocrates over 2000 years ago. Some Chinese studies have shown to block some progesterone synthesis, which may explain how it works some. It can be known as a troublesome weed, and can be difficult to control at times. It is called wild carrot, because it is believed to be one of the ancestors of the cultivated carrot.
Trumpet vine, also known as Cow Itch, can cause some people to get a poison ivy type rash after touching the plant. Hummingbirds however, love the trumpet vine flowers.
Butterfly weed, from the milkweed family, is also known as Asclepias tuberosa. Named after Asclepias , the Greed god of healing. Tuberosa is latin for "swollen" and is referring to the root.
Many may not know, that clover can be a valuable survival food! They are actually high in protein, and widely available. You can dry the flower heads, and make a tea out of them, that is healthy and sometimes tasty too. Grinding up dried flowers, or seed heads can be made into a type of flour, that is nutritious and can be mixed in with different foods. Since fresh flowers can be hard to digest, it is normally recommended that you boil them for about 5-10 minutes, or juicing them.
Wild Bergamot was used by many Native Americans, medicinally, as a cure for colds and was made into a tea. Some of the Native Americans that used it in such ways were the Menominee, the Obijibwe, and Winnebago. Many people still use it today for the same reasons, during cold and flu seasons. Since it can be very strong, its good to add honey to the tea you can make out of it. The Blackfeet Indians used wild bergamot for their strong antiseptic action. They would make poultices of the plant and use it for infections of the skin, and other minor wounds. The tea can also be used for treating infections of the throat and mouth. It was even known to be used to aid with dental problems like gingivitis and more.
One of the primary ingredients in modern day mouthwashes is Thymol, the natural antiseptic found in bergamot. Teas from bergamot could be used as a general stimulant, and the Winnebago were some that used it as such. It has been known to help excessive flatulence as well.
Bee balm has a long history of use as a medicinal plant by many Native Americans including the Blackfeet. The Blackfeet Indians recognized this plants strong antiseptic action, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds. A tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental
Coreopsis are attractive to butteflies to lay their eggs on, as the larvae use them as a food source.
I am thankful for the beautiful flowers we see in the spring and summertime. Since I have been learning more, I notice flowers growing everywhere including highways etc. Let us not forget to stop and smell, not only the roses, but to enjoy the wildflowers as well.
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