Yellow, purple/pink, and white are the most prevalent colors for wildflowers here in the Minnesota lake country — maybe that is true in general. I’d guess these colors are most effective in attracting pollinators, which would be good subject for a future post — after I’ve done some research. In any case, as the title suggests, the subject for this post will be yellow wildflowers that we have seen here in late May to mid June.
It turns out that there are two different sorts of plants, both called ragwort. There are several varieties in the genus Packera that are native to North America, and there is another ragwort, Senecio jacobaea, native to Eurasia.
The European ragwort is considered an undesirable weed, although it does provide considerable nectar for desirable pollinators. Its unpopularity is reflected in colloquial names like stinking Willie, and cankerwort. Several alkaloid compounds are present in this plant that are somewhat toxic to livestock.
The North American version of ragwort, as pictured above, doesn’t have the same negatives. It is described as a hardy effective ground-cover, and is available from nurseries specializing in native plants.
This one is very common, but is surprisingly attractive if you take the time to look at it closely. The colloquial name, yellow goats-beard, is another plus. Its habit is to shut its blossom at mid-day, which explains another of the colloquial names, Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon. The native habitat of the Yellow Salsify is southern Europe and central Asia, but now it is widespread throughout North America.
Silver cinquefoil is one of the 300 species of potentilla. The undersides of its leaves are covered with silvery hair, which explains “silver” in its name. “Cinquefoil” comes from the Old French “cinc” (five) and “feuille” (leaf), so; five-leafed. Cinquefoils grow wild in most of the cooler regions of the world.
Large Flowered Bellwort
This one we saw only briefly in late May. It is an unobtrusive plant, but it makes me wonder — why are so many plants named “wort”? The definition of wort I’m familiar with is the liquid solution of malt sugars that is fermented to make beer.
As you’d expect, google readily came up with the answer, courtesy of the blog gardeningonmars.com. “Wort” comes from the Old English “wyrt” which means root. In general “wort” is used to indicate that a plant was thought to have some medicinal value. The original convention was to use -wort as a suffix attached to the word for the health issue that it supposedly benefited, e.g. liverwort, bloodwort, feverwort, etc..