Summer Wildflowers in Highland County

Written By: Annette Naber

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.

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Scarlet Beebalm (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Scarlet Beebalm (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Wild Bergamot (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is recognizable by its tall, slender flower spikes covered with tiny white blossoms. Watch for them along roadsides.

Black Cohosh (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva), while not native to the US, have escaped gardens and now cover entire hillsides and long stretches along the road.

Daylilies (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Less showy than daylilies, but similarly widespread, are the Eastern Red Columbines (Aquilegia Canadensis) with their dainty, red and yellow, spurred flowers.

Eastern Red Columbines (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Columbine Flower (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


If you see a field covered in a purple haze, it may just be Liatris also known as Blazing Star (Liatris spicata).

Liatris or “Blazing Star” (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


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.

Tall Thimbleweed (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Lobelias come in striking colors: the scarlet red Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and the Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica).

Cardinal Flower Lobelia (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Great Blue Lobelia (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


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.

Common Ironweed (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Common Ironweed (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


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.

Butterfly Weed (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


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.

Yellow Fringed Orchid (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


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.

Wingstem Colony (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)


Wingstem Plant (Photo Credit: Annette Naber)




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