Annette Naber is the owner of Emerald Mountain Sanctuary, which is located in Highland Country. She conducts nature tours focusing on wildflowers, foraging for culinary and medicinal plants, and Forest Bathing, a nature therapy process. She also blogs at The Beauty Along the Road.
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Everywhere you turn in our county during the summer, you discover a huge diversity of wildflowers. Here is a small selection of some of my favorites:
The Monardas come in several colors – Scarlet Beebalm with blood-red flower heads (Monarda didyma) and a lavender-to-white version called Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). Scarlet Beebalm occurs less frequently and seems to prefer higher elevations.
Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is recognizable by its tall, slender flower spikes covered with tiny white blossoms. Watch for them along roadsides.
Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva), while not native to the US, have escaped gardens and now cover entire hillsides and long stretches along the road.
Less showy than daylilies, but similarly widespread, are the Eastern Red Columbines (Aquilegia Canadensis) with their dainty, red and yellow, spurred flowers.
If you see a field covered in a purple haze, it may just be Liatris also known as Blazing Star (Liatris spicata).
Tall Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana) is a more modest wildflower and easily overlooked. It is named after the green, thimble-shaped seedpods that develop after the flowering phase.
Lobelias come in striking colors: the scarlet red Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and the Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica).
From mid-summer into fall, entire fields are covered with the magnificent Common Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) sporting large clusters of purple flowers on top of six-foot-tall stems.
If your eye is drawn to an exceptionally bright orange patch in the grass, it is probably Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberose), which is a member of the milkweed family.
I have only discovered one location in Highland County with a fairly large population of Yellow Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris). The flower heads are quite distinctive with bright yellow to orange flowers that have fringed lips.
This last wildflower is extremely common and widespread especially in moist meadows near rivers and woodlands – Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia). The plant is named after the peculiar “wings” that run along its stem.