Wetland Wildflowers: Wildflower Wednesday

by Kathy Purdy on September 26, 2012 · 16 comments

in Native/Invasive

Our property is divided by a brook running southwest to northeast. Shortly after the brook enters our property the land flattens out and the brook fills it up. When we first moved here we called it the pond, because it was a fairly big, though shallow, expanse of water. Maybe it was the drought, or maybe it does this every summer, but the “pond” turned into a swamp:

a wet area that is a pond in spring

An early August morning at the wet, squishy area formerly known as the pond.

I took a walk in that area early one August morning when the sun was hitting the uphill part of the property but hadn’t reached the bottom of our little valley yet. Here’s some of the flowers I found.
White Turtlehead Chelone glabra

White Turtlehead, Chelone glabra

Hollow-stemmed Joe-Pye weed, Eupatorium fistulosum

Hollow-stemmed Joe-Pye weed, Eupatorium fistulosum

Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum

Joe’s cousin, Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum

Allegheny monkey-flower, Mimulus ringens

Allegheny monkey-flower, Mimulus ringens

Sallow sedge, Carex lurida

Sallow sedge, Carex lurida

William Cullina, author of Native Ferns, Moss, and Grasses, calls the flowers “bristly kielbasas.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. By the way, those pointy things are called perigynia (singular is perigynium).
Dodder, Cuscuta spp.

Dodder, Cuscuta spp. (That orange, twining string is it)

Dodder is in only one of my reference books, Weeds of the Northeast . It is not a pretty plant, not garden-worthy. It really creeps me out. Dodder, you see, is a parasite. According to Wikipedia, it grows toward the smell of its host plant. It attaches itself to a plant, wraps itself around it, penetrates the vascular system of the host plant, and feeds off of it. The dodder’s own root system atrophies and dies once this happens. It can feed off multiple plants. (Shudder) A great plant for Halloween. Fortunately, in our cold climate, dodder is an annual. In tropical climates it is sort of like kudzu. Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!! What’s that twining around my leg??!!!

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”


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.

Every gardener has a strange and romantic tale to tell, if you can worm it out of him – of blue flowers that came up yellow, or of a white lily that sinned in the night and greeted the dawn with crimson cheeks. In the strong heart of every gardener, some wild secret stirs.
Beverly Nichols, Rhapsody in Green

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Rose October 11, 2012 at 8:45 am

Your pond/swamp is a treasure trove of wildflowers! That dodder is pretty scary, though. A very belated Happy Wildflower Wednesday!


commonweeder October 9, 2012 at 11:24 am

What a beautiful spot! I am going to have! to identify the flowers in my fields.


Plant Stands October 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Uh, I wouldn’t recommend walking in that field if you’ve just watched “Little Shop of Horrors”…feed me, feed me. Nope, definitely not.


Rania October 1, 2012 at 10:51 am

I fell in love with these views…and I can’t help it… the Sallow sedge, Carex lurida are just amazing… Great post


Diane C September 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I think I’ll be dreaming of tendrils tonight. That dodder looks fierce (plus I was battling some overgrown grape vines whose tendrils were literally everywhere).


Cindy, MCOK September 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

That Mimulus is the cutest thing!


Lynn September 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm

What a wonderful place to walk! Our house in NY is supposed to close today, after being on the mkt 2 years, so I am doubly missing wetland wildflower walks today. It is nice to see yours and thanks for sharing.


Kathy Purdy September 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Oh, I don’t know whether to say congratulations, or, I’m sorry. One chapter of your life is closing, and another is opening up. It was a sweet little house.


Joanne Toft September 27, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Wonder about your August picture – did the trees turn colors that early? I am in Minnesota and our leaves are just now looking like this photo. When do leave begin to change in the northeast?


Kathy Purdy September 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm

It is a trick of the lighting. Where I was standing it was still dark, but the sunrise was hitting the trees on the right. They are mostly evergreens, overbright in contrast.


Dee Nash (@reddirtramblin) September 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Creepy, but cool info. I didn’t know that about dodder. In fact, never heard of dodder before. I have a very bad plant in my garden that I need to identify. I think I better hit the reference books.~~Dee


Frances September 27, 2012 at 11:49 am

It is cool that you have a space such as this for moisture loving wildflowers, Kathy. Who knows what else might show up there one year? The dodder totally creeps me out, too. Shudder!


Pat Webster September 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

This was a wonderful post, Kathy. Most of these wildflowers flourish here in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I particularly like chelone glabra — it grows wild in wet spots in our fields. I don’t know about dodder. Sounds spooky, for sure. I’ll keep my eyes open for it from now on.


Donna@Gardens Eye View September 27, 2012 at 5:51 am

These are lovely to find in the wild but oh that dodder…I will have to keep an eye out for it


Les September 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I agree with you about dodder. It would be a good subject for a Halloween story.


Gail September 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

kathy, What a treat to take a walk and find wildflowers…I love the Allegheny monkey-flower, Mimulus ringens…It can grow here, but, I’ve not seen it. Happy WW! gail


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