Friday, June 24, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday: Late Again...

Everyone loves trees, but not all trees are created equal.  Wild mulberry trees are a good example of a nuisance tree.  They often pop up here around the foundations of the farm outbuildings or other undesirable places, and they grow so quickly that if not removed immediately, they usually have to be cut down with a chainsaw.  Another tree that I assumed was a "weedy" tree grows at the back of what is now my butterfly garden.  But several springs ago, when I first planted this area with some natives and other butterfly-friendly plants, I noticed this tree was blooming.  It's taken me awhile, but I am 99% sure that this is a Rough-leaved Dogwood Cornus drummondii.

Rough-leaved dogwood is a native woody shrub or tree common in most areas of Illinois except for the northeastern part of the state.  During late spring or early summer cymes of white flowers develop and remain in bloom for 2-3 weeks. The photo above was taken two weeks ago, but a few blooms still remain.

  The nectar and pollen of the dogwood attract a host of different species of bees and other insects.  Later in the summer white drupes develop, which are a high-caloric food source for many birds and some mammals.  This has been one of the difficulties in identifying this dogwood for me, because I've never seen the drupes.  However, according to Illinois Wildflowers they disappear rapidly in the fall because of their attractiveness to wildlife, so perhaps that is the reason I've never seen them.   Young twigs and branchlets are a reddish brown; the red twigs in winter were the first clue for me that this was some type of dogwood.

Rough-leaved Dogwood develops from a branching taproot.  "However, if this woody plant is subjected to disturbance, it may develop suckers or underground runners that send up vegetative shoots. These vegetative shoots can develop into a colony of multistemmed shrubs" (Illinois Wildflowers).  Obviously, I have disturbed this plant because it has responded to my attempts in cutting back suckers to tame it by producing even more.  Despite its importance to pollinators and wildlife, Rough-leaved dogwood is not a plant I would recommend adding to your garden, especially in a suburban landscape.  But in a woodland setting or in the wild, such as at the nearby forest preserve where I've seen it growing along the trails, it is rather pretty, especially in bloom.

While I didn't plant the Rough-leaved Dogwood, I did purposely plant some Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa which seems to grow larger and larger each year.  The blooms start out orange and then turn to an orangey-yellow as they open fully.

The foliage of this plant is consumed by the Monarch caterpillars, which is why I planted it in the first place.  But if you look carefully at this enlarged photo, you'll see it attracts all kinds of insects.  If anyone can identify these striped insects, I would love to know what they are because I have them everywhere.  The smaller insects are also a mystery--after zooming in much more closely, I'm pretty sure they are some kind of alien ants:)

My favorite natives, the purple coneflowers and the black-eyed Susans are just beginning to bloom here.  But as a taste of what is to come, here are two photos taken of a Rudbeckia fulgida taken yesterday morning at the Idea Garden.

Celebrating National Pollinators Week, this is another reminder why native plants are so BEE-autiful!

This post is part of the Wildflower Wednesday hosted by pollinator champion Gail at Clay and Limestone, the fourth Wednesday of every month, not the last Wednesday.  (Note to self: check the calendar!)


  1. Beautiful photos and flowers! I like the intricacy of the rough-leaved dogwood's blooms.

  2. Rose I thought Wildflower Wednesday was the last Wednesday of the month? Anyhow I do think that is a dogwood. I really like the dogwood shrubs and wish some would grow here.

  3. Great photos. I'm going to return abd look at that dogwood. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  4. Nice profile (and I.D.) on the dogwood.

    It is fascinating how plants will reproduce (retaliate?) when injured. Your dogwood just wants to keep growing, so when you cut it back it sends out those hard to eradicate suckers. Many other plants do that too, like sassafras, and they are gorgeous in nature, but tough to manage in a garden.

  5. I planted the pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) this spring, to attract pollinators and other wildlife. We got flowers that are very similar to yours. I can't wait until it is big enough for us to enjoy the 'pagoda' form of branching.

  6. Rose I always enjoy your posts. It can be very nice to have wildlife-friendly native volunteers in the garden, even if they're somewhat rambunctious. Lovely photo of the hoverfly on the rudbeckia.

  7. The dogwood is pretty when in bloom. Too bad it suckers so bad. I love the way the seed eating birds and varmints are drawn to the mulberry tree but as you say they are weedy. I pull them out all the time since there is one right across the street.

  8. Its a pity that some of the loveliest plants are the thugs.
    Have to watch those suckers.
    Its the same with pretty bamboo. The garden can get taken over. Thats why I like tubs.
    Wish I could help you with identifying the bugs.... but I can't. Sorry!
    Word Ver: ROMANCE!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  9. Better late than never Rose is what I always say. :) You didn't disappoint us either with these pretty natives. You captured them beautifully too!

  10. Better late than to have forgotten. Great plants. I think we have some of the Cornus in our area as well. Nice plant.

  11. Hi Rose,

    I imagine the dogwood is becoming a nuisance. The same can be said of our purple loosestrife. I love it but it does try and take over the garden. I am sure, if I did not remove some on a regular basis, my whole garden would be full of said plant :)

    I love the coneflower but have given up on them. They do not do well on my heavy clay soil.
    I can only have them as annuals.

    BES is another matter....I have managed to keep last years, so hopefully they will increase with time.

  12. I like your wildflowers, wish the susans were a native here they are so lovely, I smiled as I read you never see the drupes on your dogwood as I have never on mine and now thanks to you I know why I probably don't ;o) Frances

  13. Dear Rose,
    Another informative and lovely post. Thank you. Native plants for native pollinators, yes!!
    I think your stripped bugs are fireflies.
    I clicked to enlarge your photograph and am pretty sure. I have hundreds of them in my gardens too. At dusk my backyard is magical!
    Ants are fun to watch......
    E.O. Wilson loves ants.
    Happy travels to Portland, Oregon.

  14. Such a nice post, Rose. Good information, and your photos are Gail-approved, I'm sure! :-)

  15. I love Rough Leaved Dogwood, it's much visited flowers and the drupes that follow. it's native here and the local native plant nursery can't keep it in stock~I have it pop up everywhere! So glad you joined the WW celebration~gail

  16. Hi Rose, an interesting post as always and I have learnt a new word... drupe! I have never, ever heard that before and had to look up its meaning.

    The Butterfly weed is such a pretty mix of colours and of course I am really looking forward to seeing those Monarchs :)

    Love that last photo of the Rudbeckia. Such cheerful looking plants.

    Your reference to Cone Flowers just beginning to bloom makes me wish they grew wild here, they are so pretty and so loved by the insects!

  17. Amazing captures of the r. fulgida Rose! I've got asclepias pink and white, but really, your orangey yellow is much more cheerful.

  18. I forgot about WW completely.
    The Rudbeckia is just beautiful. I can just imagine all the butterflies and bees flocking to your coneflowers. My echinacea is slowly but surely coming along. They are not suited to my cold nights, I guess.

  19. Beautiful post. I do so love the native dogwoods. They dot our fences here. I don't know however, if they're rough leaved or not. Have no clue. Black-eye Susans are a definite favorite of mine too. Thank goodness for them this hot and dreary time of year.~~Dee

  20. Sage, the blooms of this rather unkempt plant are pretty in the spring.

    Tina, I thought so, too, which is why I'm late:) I'd love to have one of the prettier dogwoods in my yard.

    Gary, Thanks for visiting!

    Laurrie, It's taken me awhile to i.d. this dogwood. This is one tough plant--I should have mentioned it's growing out of a crack in some concrete!

    Pat, From my reading, I think the pagoda dogwood is a different species. But this one certainly does attract a lot of pollinators!

    Sweetbay, The dogwood is out in back where I don't mind "rambling" so much.

    Lisa, We are always cutting down mulberry trees! I think the birds must love them and spread their seeds everywhere.

    Maggie, I've been warned about bamboo, so I've never planted it. Tubs are a great idea.

    Racquel, Thanks; I forgot that June had 5 Wednesdays this time:)

    Janet, The dogwood is a nice plant in the right spot, but it's not for everyone.

    Cheryl, I thought I was controlling the dogwood by cutting back suckers, but I seem to have made things worse. I'm sorry you can't grow coneflowers, but you have so many other lovelies, it doesn't matter.

  21. Frances, I'm going to look harder for those drupes this summer/fall. Surely the birds can't eat them that fast!

    Sherry, Do you think they are fireflies? They seem to have more of a yellow edging than the usual fireflies I have. Then again, my yard is filled with them at night, too--I love it!

    Shady, Sometimes I have trouble finding a wildflower in bloom, but this time of year there is no shortage of natives here.

    Gail, I can't believe the nurseries stock this plant! But then again, our nurseries here carry very few natives.

    Jan, The butterfly weed has done really well; now I hope the Monarchs find it. Coneflowers are my favorite perennial; I can always count on lots of bees and butterflies when they're in bloom!

    Cyndy, It was a cool morning when I snapped this photo of the Rudbeckia--I think the bees were flying more slowly than usual:)

    Rosey, Coneflowers do well here; in fact, they're almost taking over a few areas:) They're definitely bee and butterfly magnets.

    Dee, I had to do some research before figuring out this was a rough-leaved dogwood--I sure hope I got the i.d. right:)

  22. That butterfly weed is very pretty and I love your header photo!

  23. Hi Rose,
    Thank you for identifying my echineacea. I think that's what my clump is.

    I see no one identified your insect. I have a t-shirt that says, "milkweed village" and shows a lot of different insects that hang out around or on milkweed. I did a search on insects on milkweed, and I think your insect may be an assassin bug of some kind. They showed different kinds, and I didn't see one exactly like yours, but the body is shaped like most of them.

    That dogwood looks pretty with all those lovely white blooms! I like the foliage, too. This seems to be a good year for the butterfly milkweed. Mine are doing well, too.


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