Nature lovers adore spring wildflowers. Most naturalists revel in them. I like spring wildflowers; I pay attention to them. Signs of spring are always welcome. But late summer and fall wildflowers are what really get my heart pumping.
To step out into a field of yellow and purple towering above you like fireworks that don’t fade in the wind is a spectacular show of nature. Spring’s wildflowers are polite while September’s flowers are thunderous and brilliant. Spring wildflowers attract the first few brave insects of the year. September’s wildflowers attract and house hoards of insects not only attracted to the flowers but each other from every angle of the food web.
Old Field in South Chagrin Reservation, filled with goldenrod
Goldenrods bring us fields of yellow this time of year. Taking a little time to watch the insect life in and on and around goldenrod is amazing. Pollen and nectar gathering insects on the flowers, meadow katydids filling the air with their song, mantids looking for a perch from which to hunt, and flies laying their eggs in the stems of goldenrod making perfect little maggot bedrooms for winter are just some of the insects you’ll find in our fields of yellow goldenrods.
The other yellow flower of note is wingstem. It takes over the top of the field with flowers that may be eight or even twelve feet off the ground! Twelve-feet tall yellow wildflowers! Take a walk into a flowering field, find the tallest of the yellow flowers and take a close look at the stem. Wingstem is easily identifiable by the leafy folds coming off of the stem giving it the name wingstem.
the stems of wingstem have wings of green
Nearly as tall as wingstem and perhaps even more spectacular is ironweed. These deep, rich purple flowers can be six feet or more in the air. They form an umbrella of dark purple that compliments dramatically with the more abundant yellow flower masses. Ironweed is named for the toughness of its stem. But in my mind it’s the strength of its showmanship that stands out dramatically.
ironweed flowers are brilliant purple and taller than I am
There are many more wildflowers that are part the show during the month of September. I hope you’ll get out for a walk through one of Cleveland Metroparks fields or at least head out for a sightseeing drive through some wilder places. This isn’t a show you’ll want to miss. I may just convert you to a fall wildflower watcher like me!