Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wildflower (and other Wild Things) Wednesday

For the first time ever, I am joining in on Wildflower Wednesday, hosted the fourth Wednesday of every month by Gail at Clay and Limestone.  I haven't participated before because I don't have many wildflowers in my garden, but in the summer there is an abundance of weeds wildflowers on our farm.  One of my favorites is chicory with its daisy-like blue blooms.

Cichorium intybus, a member of the Aster family, grows up to 3' tall and blooms from June to October.  Flower heads are up to 1 1/2" across and emerge all along the stem.  

Chicory was used as a medicinal herb, vegetable, and salad plant in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times. Since the 17th century, dried, roasted, ground roots have been used as a coffee substitute.  Chicory is a gentle, but effective bitter tonic, which increases the flow of bile and is used to treat gallstones.  (Kurz, Illinois Wildflowers)

Chicory grows freely here and makes a nice companion plant to another favorite of mine, the wild carrot.

Daucus carota, or Wild Carrot, is more popularly known by the name Queen Anne's Lace, which refers to "Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, who loved fine clothes and lace" (Kurz). Although it is the ancestor of the cultivated carrot of today, its root is white, not orange, due to a lack of beta carotene.  Tea made from the root of Wild Carrot was once used as a diuretic.

Some might question whether Thistle could be classified as a wildflower, since it is usually labelled as a noxious weed.  But since it is included in my wildflower book, I'll feature it here.  There are several kinds of thistle which all look similar to me. This one looks like Tall Thistle, which can grow as tall as 8 feet.  The pink flowers are attractive to bees and goldfinches and are often seen in prairie plantings.

 Constant rain the past two weeks has made everything grow, well, weeds.  The purple coneflowers are early this year, and while Echinacea purpurea is not a wildflower, its ancestor Echinacea pallida, prairie coneflower, is.  Prairie coneflowers can still be seen in virgin prairies or in prairie restorations.

Soggy conditions here at the Prairie have brought out many other wild things as well.  Can you guess what has caught Sophie's attention?

Why, it's Mr. Toad!  Judging from the size of this guy, he has found plenty of insects to dine on in my garden. I wonder if he likes earwigs . . .

Prettier wild things are also making their appearance in the garden.  I've been so happy to see the increase in the number of butterflies this year.  The Red Admirals are especially prolific, but other species have been flying about as well, including the first Monarchs of the season.  Parsley, fennel, dill, and butterfly weed were planted once again this year for their dining pleasure.

Dragonflies are not as common here, but they like the damp, and between the muddy garden and the ponds in the fields, they have found much to their liking right now.  Not a very good picture, but they refused to land very long for me to snap a photo.

Again, several species have been about, including this larger one with black and clear wings.  He looks a little like a big jumbo jet about to take off, doesn't he?

Much more willing to pose for a photo session was this lovely damselfly.   In fact, while I stopped to adjust the settings on my camera, she flew up and landed on the edge of my camera!  I think she wanted to offer some photographic suggestions, because after I moved on, she followed me for awhile, flying inches from my shoulder.  I just wish she would have taken my advice and posed on some flowers rather than on the weeds and wild violets she seems to prefer.

It's another hot, muggy day here in Illinois with a heat index predicted over 100 degrees. While it's not raining--for once!--the heat may keep me indoors rather than out where the wild things are

For other postings on wildflowers, do stop by to visit native enthusiast Gail.


  1. Good morning, Rose. Chicory is one of my favorites. Love the color. I wish hybridizers would do something with this plant. It has so many great characteristics; beautiful color, long bloom time and it will grow in a hunk of rock it's so tough.

    I have several Red Admirals in my garden. Good year for them. Good year for toads too. Every time I mow, I'm dodging little toads trying not to hit one.

    Did you know that the thistle is the national flower of Scotland:)

  2. I love chicory! When I lived in NC I pulled some from the roadside for my garden where it all died. Bummer. Haven't tried that again. Sophie looks to be having fun.

  3. Cool beans! Toads and Damselflies -- 2 things this desert rat never gets to see in a garden. Looks like Sophie is keeping busy. :)

    So, first incessant rains and now the heat sends you scurrying for comfort. Sounds like you're having the same bee-zarre summer weather we are.

  4. Chicory and Queen Anne's lace is a gorgeous combination of two of my favorite wildflowers, Rose. You're so lucky having those wild areas on your farm - so full of life and beauty.

  5. Dear Rose.....I have just arrived home, so thought I would pop over and take a look at your post.

    I love chicory, I should imagine it blends so beautifully with the wild carrot. Even the thistle looks pretty. As you know I grow them here, and I have had may bees and butterflies visit.

    What a beautiful damselfly, the wings are almost black....with a lovely blue tinge. Gorgeous.

    My coneflowers are so slow this year, I do not know why. Although we have only had one day of rain in two months. My garden is extremely dry, to say the least. Perhaps you could send the rain this way, I would be most grateful.

    September is looking good. Keep your fingers crossed. Will be in touch with you and Beckie next week. Glad you liked the birthday gifts.

    Miss you......

  6. Rose, Send us your rain, please, I want a Mr Toad to be happy here, too! So glad you joined the wildflower celebration~They are my favorite plants (how many favorites can we have?)! Thanks for the link! I agree with Marnie~chicory ought to be hybridized, the color, the hardiness and bloom time are excellent. E purpurera's other name is Eastern Purple Coneflower and it can be found growing in the wild in my part of the world. There are so many cultivars that it almost seems like an exotic! Now i would love to have the E pallida in my garden.


  7. Ooh that does sound hot. Beautiful summer weather here with a cool breeze, or perhaps I shouldn't gloat! It never lasts long!

    What a wonderful fat toad? And the chicory flower is lovely, I had no idea that was what it was.

    I like visiting your farm :)

  8. I just love all of these flowers. Even the thistle. However I don't like it in my garden. It is so invasive. I love the look of it though and I know the Goldfinches rely on it to feed their youngins.
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday.

  9. Hello,
    Great pictures and I love your dog who look at the frog.

  10. Chicory is just starting to bloom along the roadways here. It is one of my favorite shades of blue. Your garden looks like it his a lively place.

    I have the same experience when photographing damsel and dragonflies. They do love to pose, don't they?

  11. I love chicory as well, and it does look nice with Queen Anne's lace. Saw a very similar damselfly at Morton Arb on Sunday!!

    BTW, I'm totally coming to Chicago again yet this summer--will email to arrange meeting you and Beckie at Chi Bot (where I indeed did not make it this time, staying in Naperville).

  12. I enjoyed all your wild and not so wild things. The damsel fly is a beauty. See, I would have just called it a dragonfly. Shows what little I know.

  13. I share your happiness about the increase in butterflies and aggravation with the increase in earwigs! They're taking over! But your wildflowers look great and the dragonflies are lovely too!

  14. Glad you joined in this week Rose, I love that Chicory. Such a pretty shade of blue. :)

  15. Lovely post, Rose! That chicory brings a smile and good memories. I took a field botany course in the summer before my freshman year of high school. This was when we lived in St. Clair County, IL. One of the first things to greet our eyes as we drove down to the southern part of the state for a week's stay at field camp was chicory. The highway department must have been low on funds that summer to keep the median mowed because that chicory was everywhere, brightening things up with that glorious blue color.

  16. Marnie, That's a good idea for hybridizers. I find it hard to call chicory a weed.

    Tina, That's been my experience, too, whenever I've tried to dig up something in the wild:) Sophie is fascinated by anything that flies or hops.

    Kate, The damselfies are usually only here when we've had a lot of rain...which we've had. If I had rainbarrels all over my yard, I'd have enough water to last me the rest of the summer:)

    Linda, Not all the weeds are this pretty:) But I do enjoy the Queen Anne's Lace and the chicory.

    Cheryl, I would love to send some rain your way! I think the thistle in bloom is quite pretty, though farmers hate it. I'm glad about September!

    Gail, I might rename our farm "Toad Hall." Wish I could send you some rain! Thanks for the info on the coneflowers; I'd like to have a few of the prairie coneflowers here, too.

    Suburbia, Today is much more pleasant--the first nice day we've had in weeks. Come visit me! I have a trampoline that Small Sprog would love:)

    Lisa, The thistle isn't in my garden, thank goodness, just out in the "hinterlands" around the farm buildings.

    Ellada, Thanks for visiting; Sophie is much amused by the toads.

    Gardenpath, The dragonflies don't want to stay still for me, but the damselflies are real hams. This one became my friend:)

    Monica, I learned that this is a jewelwing damselfly--its body/tail is iridescent green. Later this summer sounds good!

    Susie, Everything I know about dragon and damselflies I learned from blogging:)

    Rose, So many of my leaves and petals have tiny holes in them. I haven't really seen the earwigs, other than one, but I'm guessing that's what's doing the damage. Grrr.

    Racquel, Yes, that's my favorite shade of blue, which is probably why I'm so fond of chicory.

    W2W, Mowing roadsides has been cut to a bare minimum the last few years, so chicory is a common sight in the summer. Remember, Illinois is broke:)

  17. You have loads of lovely wildflowers on your farm. Oklahoma doesn't always mow the roadsides here either and I wish more states didn't. It would so help the pollinators who rely on these high nectar plants.~~Dee

  18. A thoroughly enjoyable 'wild' post, Rose with lovely photos :)

    The Chicory and Queen Anne's Lace look so pretty together. My Coneflowers are way behind yours!

    I haven't seen many dragons yet this year but there are a few damsels around although not in my garden, I really should have a pond.

    Beautiful butterfly photo and lovely to see the handsome Toad, how well camouflaged he was! I suspect nothing escapes the lovely Sophie's eye (and nose) though :)

  19. I should join Wildflower Wednesdays, but it never works in my timing or I forget. I love your images, especially the first one. It really captures the unexpected beauty one finds in a green field. Excellent dragon fly photos! I hope things cool down for you soon.

  20. Chicory and Queen Anne's Lace are two of my favorite wildflowers and look so pretty together. Chicory seems to thrive under any circumstance. Sometimes it looks like it's growing right out of the least I think that's Chicory.

    Your Thistle photo is fantastic, almost looks like an exotic cactus.

    Frogs/toads, dragonflies and butterflies have been abundant this year around here, too. Is it because of all the rain?

    I've missed you and your blog. I need to get back to reading blogs and maybe even posting once in a while.


  21. Rose girl ! it has takenme forever to have time to myself and visit you : )
    Your post is so pretty and we have loads of that fabulous blue chicory on the road sides of the city with Queen Ann's Lace .. they seed it on purpose with other wild flowers and it does make Kingston one of the prettiest cities to visit I think ? LOL
    Love the damselfly and how odd that I found the same event happened too ! I loved having its picture taken .. do you think it actually knows ? LOL
    "Sophie and the Toad" .. I can see a whole series of children's books from this .. I think you should give it a try ? : )
    We are out of the heat and things are cool and wet .. but sunny weather coming too .. it seems to be perfect for the garden lately, so that is a wonderful thing for me not to battle the hose monster phew !
    Great post girl : )

  22. I'm afraid that the heat would finish me off!

    Beautiful wild flowers and things!
    You take lovely photos.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  23. Dear Rose,
    All of your wildflowers are also growing well in my backyard! The bees and butterflies do love them!
    You have a beautiful photograph of the female Ebony Jewel wing, my favorite Damsel fly. She is so gorgeous!
    Love the white dots on her wings.
    Summertime and the living is hot and humid in the mid-west. Stay cool.

  24. A lovely post, Rose, and I really love your handsome toad!

  25. The color of chicory is very pretty!

    Thistles are the bane of my garden. I don't think I will ever win!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

  26. Nice job, Rose! :-) I'd never seen chicory until we moved to SE Iowa quite a number of years ago. At that time it was in our ditch. Frequent mowings took care of that. ha. I really love the way chicory, the yellow birdsfoot trefoil and queen's anne lace work together in the ditches in the Spring.

  27. That damselfly is beautiful!

    As are the 'weeds' - sorry, wild flowers!


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