A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

A Year in my Yard: Ditch Weeds and Hitchhikers

When I hear the word “flower” it brings to mind the day lilies, tulips, cone flowers and the other traditional flowers.  We tend to think of flowers as objects of beauty rather than the functional sex organs that they are.  We look out the window speeding past millions of sex organs, plain as day, in the ditches throughout the world.  We even consume the immature sex organs of many different plants (your broccoli will never look the same).

My point is, flowers may seem intricately beautiful as if place here only for our pleasure, when in reality, they serve only to perpetuate the plant species in the most efficient manner possible.

So here are some of those sex organs that we see baring it all on the highway and others who want to get intimately close to you.  Enjoy!

Curly Dock

June 21:  Curly Dock

Curly dock has these very simple flower head that will turn into a heavy head of dark brown seeds that look almost like tobacco.  I see these all over the roads here in Minnesota but have never known exactly what it was.

 

 

White Avens

June 29:  White Avens

On the road of life, there are hitchhikers.  Seeds will do best when they can get away from their parents.  This leads to the samaras, or helicopters, on the maples, the light fluff of a dandelion or even the buoyant nature of a coconut.  Other plants have a different strategy.  The White Avens, pictured above, produces hook like seeds that will attach themselves to any passerby.  I found this plant on a well-traveled deer trail in my backyard, quite literally a highway.

 

Burdock

June 30:  Burdock

Here is the king of all the plant hitchhikers, the burdock.  The little-hooked barbs of the seed are already formed on the flower.  These aggressive seeds will create large mats of hair in any mammal unlucky enough to get snagged.  I once found coyote tracks on my ice covered pond and you could clearly see where it had stopped and wiggled to remove 6 burdocks from its hindquarters, leaving only the seeds and a little hair behind.  An annoyance for the coyote was free transportation for the burdock.

 

Virginia Stickseed (2).JPG

June 30:  Virginia Stickseed

This small flower is another hitchhiker with the surname of stickseed (you know it means business).  The seeds produced by the stickseed are small sticky burrs.  The stem branches are nearly perpendicular to the ground and each branch is covered with tiny sticky seeds ready to hitch a free ride.

 

 

Not all plants we commonly see on the side of the road are hitchhikers, some simply take advantage of the good sun and reduce competition from habitual mowing.

 

Yarrow.JPG

June 30:  Yarrow

 

Pink Clover.JPG

June 30: Pink Clover

Here are two examples of flowers in my yard that are common on roadsides as well.  Unlike the hitchhikers these two thrive in the semi-maintained ditches across the Midwest because they offer the right light and reduced competition.

 

To finish here are a couple more pictures that don’t necessarily fit this theme but still need to be documented for my Year in my Yard project to document all the flowers on my property.  Enjoy!

 

lady's Mantle

June 29:  Lady’s Mantle

Bee Balm

June 29: Bee Balm

Golden Alexander

June 29:  Golden Alexander

hydrangea

June 30:  Hydrangea

Sage2

June 30: Sage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 responses

  1. Mom

    Thanks for another interesting post!
    Smiles

    July 22, 2016 at 15:56

  2. Jim, you’ve taken an every-day-ordinary flower — clover — and turned it into a work of art. It is every bit as beautiful as the cultivated garden dwellers.

    July 25, 2016 at 11:30

    • When you look objectively there is no such thing as an everyday normal anything!! Every moment is unique an full of wonder!

      August 1, 2016 at 10:33

      • 🙂

        August 1, 2016 at 12:07

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