Yellow Flowers Blooming

Wildflowers of many colors are blooming now. Pinks, blues and whites are everywhere. But the yellow flowers tower over them all.

Height is one way these flowers tower over the other colors. Many of the plants reach eight feet or even more.

Leaf size is another way these flowers tower over the others. And cup plant is the tops in that category. Its leaves are a double leaf melding around the stem and forming a cup. Rain fills this cup.

yellow flowers on cup plant
Cup plant is unmistakable. It often towers over you to eight feet. The huge leaves merging around the stem are unlike any other sunflower. Rays are relished by insects. The flowers seem small compared to the plant, but are numerous shooting up like a loose bouquet out of the topmost leaf cup.

Flower size is yet another way yellow flowers tower over the other colors. These are composite flowers with little tube flowers forming a disc in the center. Ray flowers form the outside ring.

These rays can be several inches long. The disc can be a couple of inches across or more. Sunflowers are in this group of yellow flowers.

Rolling along in a vehicle this array of yellow looks much alike. Walking along and looking at the flowers and plants shows they come in many different forms.

yellow flowers prairie dock
The common question about this plant is about the huge leaves sticking up in a basal rosette. The flower stalk grows up several feet from the rosette and opens a series of yellow flowers. These rays are long and narrow. The tube flowers fall off by the afternoon.

Seeing the differences is easy. Trying to put names with flowers is difficult.

All of these flowers are in the aster family. Many of them are in a group called heliantheae. I opened my “Flora of Missouri” and turned to the key. The first choice used ligulate corolla. Corolla refers to the rays. Sigh.

Pictures are the way to go. Since I now have at least eight different yellow flowers without names, my visit to www.missouriplants.com will be a lengthy one.

yellow flowers ashy sunflower
This is one of the easier sunflowers to identify. The rays are distinct. The disc has a distinctive pattern. And the leaves have a slight scallop edge.

There are familiar flowers too. The cup plant, yellow ironweed, tickseed sunflower and prairie coreopsis are blooming now. Jerusalem artichoke will bloom soon.

Although Jerusalem artichokes are a garden vegetable, they are also a native wildflower. Both occur here, the one wild and the other attempting a garden take over.

Unknown sunflower
This is a typical sunflower. It is much like several others blooming now with its yellow rays and central disc of ray flowers. Several identification points are important. One is the size, shape and color of the main flower. Second is the cup holding the flower as the overlapping bracts can be smooth or stick out in points or rounded points. The leaves matter too. For sunflowers they are usually opposite, but vary in shape and having or not petioles. The edges can be smooth or toothed.

The wild version does have edible tubers, usually small. The garden variety, if well watered, has large knobby tubers. The wild ones bloom a few weeks before the garden ones.

Summer is winding down. The wealth of yellow flowers blooming along the roads celebrates the season. As said in “Exploring the Ozark Hills”, yellow is the color of summer.