Tag Archives: growing wildflowers

Hispid Buttercup Invasion

Several years ago a lovely buttercup appeared in my garden. After much debate, I decided it was an Hispid Buttercup, although the plant in the garden was much bigger and lusher than any in the wild.

As is the case with wildflowers, the next year produced a bumper crop of Hispid Buttercups in my garden. I pulled most leaving a couple to grace the garden with their sunny yellow flowers for most of the summer.

Hispid Buttercup flower
Hispid Buttercup flowers are bright yellow and held over the foliage. A happy plant is covered with blooms for months.

The plant was not happy with my garden as a place to grow. It decided the entire yard needed a few buttercups. Some made it across the road into the back yard.

On the way to town I pass a horse pasture, at least it is supposed to be a pasture. It is yellow as the Hispid Buttercup has taken over.

Hispid Buttercup plant
This small plant was out in the creek bottoms. The one in my garden is much larger and lusher and made me wonder if it was the same plant.

Normally the plant is small, only a foot tall or so. It sports a handful of flowers. It favors drier areas with a bit of shade as the edges of the woods.

The flowers are glossy. They really have a special chemical giving them their bright shine making them a nightmare to photograph. Cloudy days work the best along with restricting the light setting.

The flowers are smaller, about three quarters of an inch across. Pistils form a pompom in the center. They become a little fruit filled with seeds.

Hispid Buttercup leaf
The basic hispid buttercup leaf has the three lobes. Bigger leaves can have lobes in the original ones making a more complex leaf. The majority grow up on long petioles from the base of the plant.

If you can put up with the invasive nature, the Hispid Buttercup would be a lovely addition to a flower garden. It blooms from late spring through most of the summer. In the garden the plant is around 18 inches tall forming a mound of green foliage hidden by the yellow flowers.

In my garden, which is supposed to be a vegetable garden, my buttercups have a spot where several plants are allowed to grow. All others are dug out and removed.

Admire more Ozark plants in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”

Impressive Bull Thistles

Surrounded by wild land, the house yards regularly sprout various wildflowers. This year was the year of the bull thistles.

I feel people recoiling in horror. Thistles are weeds! They have thorns.

There are a number of invasive thistles such as musk thistle. These are not allowed to grow here. Tall and bull thistles are native plants.

Even the native thistles can become weeds. One of the things about them is the tremendous number of seeds they produce. The lawn mower keeps the hordes at bay allowing only a few thistles to grow to maturity.

bumblebee on bull thistles
Every hair like pistil in a bull thistle flower head comes from its own tube flower. The bumblebee works its way around the blooms checking each flower for nectar before moving to the next cluster.

Thistles are a kind of aster. Those pink flower heads are masses of tube flowers, each a well of nectar. That makes thistles popular with insects such as bumblebees.

Hummingbirds like thistles too. They hover near a flower head and sip nectar from each flower before moving to the next breakfast buffet.

This year we had a couple of impressive bull thistles. Most of the plants fall over and send numerous branches skyward to bloom. Or they send up handfuls of stems each trying to be the main stem, but ending up making a thorny bush.

bull thistles can be impressive
The branches on this plant start about waist high on me. The top is a foot or more over my head. New flower heads open as older ones wither to begin forming seeds.

This year two of the thistles sent up single stalks that began branching three feet off the ground. One topped off at five feet. The other was over six feet tall!

As the flowers become seeds, thistles are still popular. This time the warblers and goldfinches hang off the flower heads eating the seeds. Many of the fluffy comas drift away minus their seed burdens. Plenty still have seeds to scatter across the yard.

We had a few years with moth mullein plants occupying the front yard with their short spires of delicate white flowers with purple centers. Then a couple of years hosted regular mullein towering up over their rosettes of huge hairy leaves. This was the year of the bull thistles. What will next year bring?

Enjoy essays about plants and animals from an Ozark year in Exploring the Ozark Hills.