Mystery Wild Flower Needs Has A Name

– Posted in: Native/Invasive
9 comments

image of lake with water lilies

Lily Lake at Chenango Valley State Park

This past Sunday I enjoyed a family reunion at Chenango Valley State Park. But, like the gardening geek I am, while other family members were taking pictures of cousins in swimming suits or Grandma eating sweet corn, I took a walk around Lily Lake and started taking pictures of wild flowers with my HTC Incredible cell phone.

The cell phone camera is pretty good for a cell phone camera, but when it comes to small things that move in the slightest breeze, well, it’s a tough job for a cell phone camera (though I won’t rule out operator error). There is one plant I couldn’t identify and of course that is the one where the blossom came out blurry. If you can recognize this plant by its leaves, its overall habit, or its blurry flowers, please tell me what it is!

unidentified wild flower

Overall habit of the mystery plant

I found several of these plants growing along the trail that went around Lily Lake. They were not actually at the water’s edge, but usually on the side of the trail further from the water, growing in dappled shade.
leaves of unidentified wild flower

These are the leaves. The flower stalk is visible emerging from the middle of the photo.

I’m assuming this is a native plant, but I really don’t know. I’m hoping someone out there knows.
unidentified wild flower

The flowers are pink. The one all the way on the right is sharpest.

As best I can remember, the flower shape was the wing-and-keel common to legume plants, but the leaves didn’t look like members of the pea family.

Do You Know the Name of This Plant?

I have been through all my wild flower reference books, but it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. Whatever it is, I don’t think it’s common, because I’ve leafed through my reference books many times and it doesn’t look familiar. I even tried calling the park office, but they’ve been busy every time. So I appeal to you, my readers, for help in identifying this plant.

Helen of Toronto Gardens correctly identified it as Desmodium glutinosum. Thank you, Helen! Now I can sleep at night.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

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Lisa August 5, 2010, 7:27 pm

I’m glad you were able to ID your mystery plant 🙂 Not that long ago, my sister and I were visiting our hometown. We found a field full of flowers that we always called “Indian Paintbrush” when we were little and used to pick, fistfuls at a time. Snagging one, I brought it home thinking how much I’d enjoying seeing it in my garden. Doing searches for “Indian Paintbrush” I realized it couldn’t be that plant. Searching a little longer, I found out it was really “Devil’s Paintbrush Pilosella aurantiaca” a super invasive weed. Like I don’t have enough thugs in my garden. I laugh now thinking about how hard we worked to wrestle it out of its heavy clay home.

Frank Adams July 30, 2010, 10:53 pm

Wildflowers will give you a hundred of varieties and probably thousands worldwide. Actually, as I remember, there are still flower species that are still not given names especially those on the Galapagos and the Amazon jungle. But I do not know if I am already late for the news. But that is as far as I can remember.

Les July 3, 2010, 7:41 am

I can not contribute anything to indentifying your mystery plant, but I liked your comment about taking pictures of wildflowers. I have 1000’s of photos, but the ones with people in them are few and far between. Looking at them you would think I had no friends or family and just lived with a pack of dogs.

Dirty Girl Gardening July 1, 2010, 9:19 pm

Nice group effort here!

Helen at Toronto Gardens June 30, 2010, 12:00 pm

Kathy, I’m the same way as you when it comes to a plant ID challenge. They eat away at me till I figure them out. From what I found online, this looks to me like this could be tick trefoil (Desmodium spp.):

http://www.mayacreek.org/pictures/plants/tick-trefoil-lrg.jpg

Kathy Purdy June 30, 2010, 12:14 pm

Helen, by tracing your link back to this page, I see there is both a pointed-leaved and a naked-flowered tick trefoil. I looked through all the blurry pictures I took, and none of them have leaves on the stalk, so I’m thinking it’s Desmodium nudiflorum. However, the leaves do look more similar to the Desmodium glutinosum that you found for me. That’s probably what it is. Thank you! Will I see you at Buffa10?

Helen at Toronto Gardens June 30, 2010, 12:21 pm

If I had to choose between the two, I’d say D. glutinosum myself. The pointy leaf tips and shorter leaf petioles do it for me.

jodi (bloomingwriter) June 30, 2010, 11:50 am

Well I don’t know, Kathy, but it does sort of look like it’s one of the Apocynum or something related to dogbane. Without a clear shot of the flowers it’s really hard to get it into a family. Hope someone can help more than that.