Wildflowers on the RailTrail

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Flower time!

25 July

Well the last two weeks have seen hot, dry weather and the summer plants are loving it.  There are sweeps of Black-eyed Susans, Wild Bergamot/Bee Balm, Yellow and White Sweet Clover, Crown Vetch, Everlasting Pea and Spotted Knapweed.   Along side them are the beginnings of the Goldenrods (Early, Sweet and Late as well as Grass- or Lance-leaved).  There are still plenty of Showy Tick Trefoil and Bird’s Foot Trefoil as well.  The masses of Boneset, Joe Pye Weed, Swamp Milkweed and Tall Sunflower are seeing the buds and first blooms–to be followed by mass blooming.  Even the Indian Hemp is ready to bloom all along the trail.

We found two new plants this week.  Agrimony–(Thanks Marcia Dilling for the ID) is a member of the rose family and is not showy, but has a lovely leaf and leaflet arrangement with tiny yellow flowers and burr like seeds.

agrimony agrimony2 agrimony3

Virginia Stickseed is pretty non-descript with tiny white flowers and burr-like seeds on a long raceme and is a member of the Borage family.

stickseed stickseed2

It is a challenge to find the identification for some of these small and not particularly pretty wild plants, but we do love a challenge!

We also saw Greater St John’s Wort this week–along with the usual multiple cast of Common St John’s Wort that we have been seeing for several weeks.  The only real difference is the size of the leaves and overall plant.  The flowers are about the same size.  Common has smaller leaves but large flowers, and perhaps a few more flowers than the Greater does.

grtstjohns comstjohns  Greater on the Left, Common on the Right

There was also Culver’s Root blooming along the trail from 6-7mile marker.  I had not seen it here before.

A different plant blooming from 4-5 mile was a Water Plantain–again pretty unremarkable–but interesting in the arrangement of it’s flowers.


There was a lot of Water Hemlock (white) and Wild Parsnip(yellow) blooming from the ditches.  And it is very tall now.  The Queen Anne’s Lace or Wild Carrot (another white) is also blooming in huge stands.  the Golden Alexanders are about finished blooming (yellow) but have very interesting seed heads starting.

All the shrubs are making berries or seedpods and the birds are in abundance.  The blue berries of the Alternate-leaf and Silky Dogwood and the white berries of the Osier and Grey Dogwood are favorites and don’t stay on the plants long.

Wild Grapes are beginning to turn and all of the honeysuckle have berries.  Unfortunately the purple berries of the  Buckthorn are also available–not good for the birds or the property they drop them on when they can’t digest them.

Lots of Black and Red Raspberries and Black and Choke and Pin Cherries are out too.  I’ve even seen chickadees fighting over prime spots on the cherry tree.

The nuts of the Witch Hazel and the red seed pods of the Ninebark are available as well.  The Maple Leaf and Cranberry Viburnum are turning red as well–though not preferred food for the birds until winter.

Please let me know what you are seeing as you go around the rail trail and in the parks in Midland County. Share your thoughts and photos!



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