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July Wildflowers

July 28, 2010

In spring, the woods around my house are full of wildflowers; but in late July the wildflowers are found primarily at the edges of the woods – along the driveway and on the fringes of the garden. The exceptions are the saprophytic flowers of Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) and pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys) that pop up through the leaf litter on the forest floor after a rain.

Monotropa uniflora (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Monotropa hypopitys (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
The showiest wildflowers at this time of year are the bright plumes of goldenrod (Solidago), so heavy with rain that their stems are arched over and their inflorescences horizontal. Along the roadsides in my neighborhood, goldenrod is often seen with the equally showy flowers of Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) and native Spiraea latifolia (meadowsweet); but on my property, the goldenrod is the undisputed star, accompanied by its much more demure sibling, silverrod (Solidago bicolor).
Solidago bicolor (photo credit: Jean's Garden)

For me, Solidago is a sign of late summer. But there are also wildflowers in bloom that have been present for much of the summer. These include the various clovers – red (Trifolium pratense), white (Trifolium repens), and rabbit foot (Trifolium arvense) – and yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Trifolium pratense (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Trifolium arvense (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Trifolium repens (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Achillea millefolium (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

There are some wildflowers growing along the side of my driveway that I have never noticed before and that are unfamiliar to me. I think this one may be some kind of buckwheat, possibly Lady’s Thumb (Polygonum persicaria).

Polygonum persicara? (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Flower detail of possible Plygonum persicaria (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Mystery plant (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Flower detail on mystery plant (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

Can anyone help identify this mystery plant? (The flowers look orchid-like to me, but I can’t find anything resembling this in my wildflower guide.)

Update: Thanks to Clare of Curbstone Valley Farm, who suggested resources for seeking further information, I have tentatively identified my mystery flower as Epipactis helleborine, a Eurasian native orchid that has become naturalized in much of New England. This plant is sometimes called the “weed orchid,” which would fit the casual way it is growing along the side of my driveway.


Wildflower Wednesday is hosted on the fourth Wednesday of each month by Gail at Clay and Limestone. Visit her blog to see more July wildflowers.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 12:57 pm

    Why is it that wildflowers are always so much more enchanting than those planned and planted in ornamental … oh hang on, I think I’ve answered my own question!

  2. July 28, 2010 1:37 pm

    Wildflowers are so beautiful and you captured some lovely photos today Jean.

  3. July 28, 2010 1:41 pm

    A flower puzzle…Jean you have me here~I don’t know this one at all! Must discover its name! So glad you joined in on the celebration and ~lovely photos, btw. gail

  4. July 28, 2010 1:52 pm

    Wow, a wildflower orchid?! I’m jealous – that is a beauty. And the saprophytic flowers are so interesting – they look like they’re made of plastic or frosting or something. The only wildflowers in my garden are the weeds in the lawn!

  5. A Garden of Threads permalink
    July 28, 2010 2:06 pm

    Wonderful flowers growing in your garden. I too love the goldenrod. An insect magnetic for sure.

  6. July 28, 2010 2:29 pm

    Hello Jean

    I am just fascinated by wildflowers – they were a genus of plants that I used to just term “weeds” but now have fallen in love with them. I’m sorry but I can’t id the one on your blog post – I have enough difficulty figuring out the ones I find locally and we have a rich array of them here in Scotland.

    We too have Lady’s thumb growing here along with that beautiful meadowsweet, clovers and achillea.

    Those indian pipe and pinsap looks really do look enchanting little things.

  7. Elephant's Eye permalink
    July 28, 2010 3:05 pm

    Surely orchids. Is there an online wildflower guide for your area?

  8. July 28, 2010 4:30 pm

    Your mystery flower must be a wild orchid Jean. I tried looking through the USDA plants database, but couldn’t find anything conclusive. If you can’t find an online guide to help you identify it, perhaps your local library might have a copy of this book?

    Cameron, Jean Wallace, 1976, Orchids of Maine (1976), University of Maine at Orono Press

    Or perhaps the the Maine Orchid Society could help?

    They may request a photograph of the leaves if you have one, as that really helps with species that have many look-alikes.

  9. July 28, 2010 4:40 pm

    Enjoyed your wildflowers today. We have many of the same here too. I looked quickly in my wildflower book but could not identify your plant. It certainly has the appearance of an orchid. I hope that you will post it when you find out. Thanks so much for sharing.

  10. July 28, 2010 5:40 pm

    They are all just beautiful. Wish I could ID your mystery wildflower but I am so not good with wildflowers.

  11. July 28, 2010 5:45 pm

    Beautiful photos Jean! Why does knotweed come to mind with the tiny pink wildflower and that is surely a wild orchid of some kind. Walking in the woods … what a lovely thing to do! ;>)

  12. July 28, 2010 5:58 pm

    Lovely! It’s amazing how resiliant & reliable wildflowers are.

  13. July 28, 2010 10:26 pm

    I wish the plant that I posted on my Wildflower wednesday could have been identified as quickly as your mystery plant! I had some suggestions in the comments but nothing has matched up yet.
    Love your pictures.

  14. July 28, 2010 11:35 pm

    Ah, Goldenrod. There is some across from the window I face as I work, growing on the edge of the lane. It is especially beautiful when the sun lights it up in the late afternoon.

    I have no idea what that orchid is, but I found something rather similar, with teeny tiny flowers, back in the woods in late spring. Only in this case, the throats were quite pink, almost bordering on red. Yours look a bit more refined.

    Enjoyed this walk on the wilder side of your garden, Jean. 🙂

  15. July 29, 2010 12:18 am

    I always enjoy seeing how the garden and landscape respond to plentiful rainfall….plants that would never come up otherwise. Queen Anne’s Lace is one of my favorite flowers 🙂

  16. July 29, 2010 4:18 am

    Hello Jean 🙂
    Those are such delicate beauties! I am very taken with the purple colour of the clover…I don’t think we get that one here, bit I certainly get the white one coming up as a weed, but not a very problematic one.

  17. July 29, 2010 11:33 am

    A lovely collection of wildflowers, Jean! You’ve included some plants I’ve never seen before. But I do have clover in abundance–the bees love it.

  18. July 29, 2010 9:44 pm

    A great post, Jean. I just love Indian pipes. Seeking out wildflowers is a wonderful, relaxing, and informative pasttime … more gardeners should stop to enjoy the flowers outside of thier garden boundaries.

  19. July 30, 2010 11:09 am

    The wildflowers are pretty and I’m sure they attract the little butterflies as well. It is a colourful world out there.

  20. sequoiagardens permalink
    July 31, 2010 1:34 pm

    Right. I’ve diarised it. 4th Wed of the month is WFW! August is about as dull as can be here – perhaps a good month in which to start… 😉 Thanks, Jean!

  21. July 31, 2010 11:30 pm

    Jean – wild flowers strike me, delicate appearance like lace but strong & sturdy through the heat of the season?! Thanks for posting on such a sweet subject! -Shyrlene

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