Monday, August 3, 2009

The Up-side to the bad economy.

Welcome to my second installment of my new series.
Each week I will explore a positive change brought on by today’s faltering economy.

Meadows born from economizing and green policies - not mowing. #2

Throughout Michigan, the state and local governments have tightened their budgets by not mowing along roadsides and at some state and local parks. The result is a lovely, every changing landscape of radiant wildflowers and grasses, bringing a natural rainbow of color to our lives. The following are some that are currently blooming in mid and lower Michigan.

More Obscure Wildflowers -

Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa L. A member of the mint family Wild Bergamot is found in meadows. The flower has single clusters of tubular pink to lilac colored individual flowers that make a flower heat at the tip of the stem. Each flower has a tuft of long hair at its tip. The leaves are in pairs, and are short-stalked, longer than broad, and widest below the midpoint, smooth to slightly hairy; margins are toothed. Stems are also smooth to softly hairy shaped square in a cross section. (4-sided).

Racemed Milkwort Polygala polygama, Walt. Found in dry woods, meadows. Flowers are pink to rose-purple with loose spikes at the ends of the stems. Each flower has a central tube and two spreading wings. The plant has several simple leaves that alternate and are longer then wide. One root carries many smooth steams that are usually upright but the outer stems may recline.

Spotted Knapweed
or Spotted Star Thistle – Centaurea maculosa, Lam.
Found in meadows and along roadsides in the heat of summer till fall. About 1-4 ft. tall the blossoms are shaggy and resemble Bachelor’s Button of the cultivated garden to which it is related. Color is usually pink but may range from white to purple. Flowers are at the tips of the stems. The Central part of the blossom consists of many individual, tubular flowers; the under part of the flower head is overlapping spiny, black-tipped bracts. The stems leaves are few, deeply cut into narrow segments, and are rough to the touch and grayish green in color.

Cow ParsnipHeracleum Lanatum Michx. Mistakenly referred to as Queen Anne’s Lace. Cow Parsnip can be found along roadsides and meadows in the heat of summer. Flowers are flat-topped clusters of white flowers forming very large blossoms up to 8 in. across. Petals are deeply notched at the tip, and form larger clusters on the outer edges of the flower than those on the inside. The leaves are large commonly up to 12-18 in across, and are compound with 3 coarsely toothed leaflets. The leaves are hairy on the underside with stems that are ridged, woolly and hollow.

Please feel free to comment and post pictures of your wildflowers and any in sites you may have to the Up-side to the down economy.

Next installment: Why wildflowers are important to our Eco-system and more positive observations of the "Up-side to the bad economy."

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