Revisiting summer Through Wildflowers

The trees on the hills are bare gray skeletons. Vultures have flown south replaced by juncos from the north. I am spending part of the winter revisiting summer through wildflowers.

This past summer was amazing here for wildflowers. The roadsides, hills, pastures and riverbanks were full of plants I recognized and many I didn’t. My camera got a workout.

Time is finite. Downloading hundreds of pictures takes a lot of it. Trying to identify unfamiliar flowers takes a lot of time too.

beggar tick or tick trefoil flowers, genus Desmodium, look like little pink slippers
Long stems hang out lined with little pink slippers. Some kinds have eyespots, Some are three quarters of an inch long, others barely a quarter inch. All make flat triangular seed pods covered with fuzz to stick to anything walking by. These are the members of Desmodium, the beggar ticks or tick trefoil flowers.

Some groups of wildflowers are difficult to sort out. Sunflowers and beggar ticks are cases in point. So I dump them into an Unknown category.

Now the wildflowers are gone for the winter. My camera is used less in a month than it was used during some summer days. Instead I am revisiting summer through wildflowers as I sort through all of those pictures and try to identify those many unknowns.

revisiting summer through wildflowers like Deptford pinks
Deptford pinks are not large, barely half an inch across. It’s their vivid pink color that is remarkable. They were brought over from Europe and have made themselves at home along roadsides and in fields. The plants are tall, thin stems, but the flowers top them for months.

Several years ago I planned a Dent County Flora. I had lots of pictures and even started looking up and writing about many of the 2000 or so plants growing wild in Dent County. Except I am not a botanist, only an avid amateur. The project languished.

Then I came across “Missouri In Flight” and saw a way to reshape my botany project.

Forget the botanical descriptions I almost understand. Instead I can focus on my pictures. And the pictures can be as much about what I see as beautiful about a flower as an illustration of the flower.

Bull thistle flower with butterfly and bumblebee
Thistles are thorny plants, often big and leggy, so people cut or mow them down. Leaving one or two is worth the space as birds from hummingbirds to finches and insects including dusky skipper butterflies and bumblebees visit the flowers for nectar and the seeds for food.

Wildflowers don’t exist as garden subjects, pristine in their shapes and colors. They exist in the world with pollinating visitors, herbivores taking bites out of them, spiders and others using them as hunting grounds. And these make it into some of the pictures.

The best reasons for doing the Dent County Flora project are: having an excuse to go out hiking; taking pictures; and revisiting summer through wildflowers all winter.