Walking dogs once or twice daily, you notice that there is a huge variety of flowering plants along the roadsides in the Minnesota lake country. Also, as the spring and summer goes on there is a procession to the flowering, from one type of wildflower to another. All very interesting, but up until this year I had nearly no idea of what plants I was seeing.
So, earlier this year I downloaded an app, Picture This, that does a good job identifying plants photographed with your phone. It has been real informative. Using this app, along with some on-line research, mnnorthlake.com will regularly share photos and information about local plants.
The plants will be shown in approximate order of their flowering, from spring through summer and fall. I’ll start with a terrific plant that I had not known about before:
Strange name, right? In plant ID’s the word “hoary” seems to come up frequently. In this context it denotes plants with leaves that are covered with short, dense, greyish white hairs. “Puccoon” is derived from a Native American word referring to a plant that produces pigment. Apparently its taproot yields reddish-purple juice that can be used as dye.
The Hoary Puccoon was one of the first wildflowers that we noticed blooming in late May, and it is still blooming in mid-June. It is common alongside county roads, typically in small “bouquets” as seen in the picture. According to comments on www.minnesotawildflowers.info (a great website) puccoons are difficult to successfully propagate – otherwise they’d likely be popular garden plants.
These bushes were blooming early this year just as other trees were getting their leaves in late May. There are several species of serviceberries that are difficult to distinguish. Because inland serviceberry is common in Minnesota, it is my best guess as to identification. Serviceberries are native plants to Minnesota, but are also used in landscaping as ornamental shrubs.
Serviceberry plants are a favorite food of deer and rabbits. The berries are edible and reportedly taste like blueberries; the berries ripen in June which is why the plant is also called Juneberry.
These columbines are very common in the area, both in ditches and alongside trails through the woods. They started blooming in early June and are still going strong. Most other wildflowers are white, yellow, or pink/purple, so these salmon red flowers really stand out.