The continuing discoveries of a 21st century artist and naturalist …
The whole statement for this title comes from the poem by Jenny Joseph. “Warning. When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple…”. This color is my sister’s favorite color and has, since the time of the ancient Greeks, been associated with royalty.
This is the last segment of the series about a particular color in wildflowers. It is about those which “wear” purple all the time.
The first plant was unfamiliar to me until I figured out that it was the wild, blossoming version of what I’d always heard referred to as a ‘Money Plant’. The reason for the ‘Money Plant’ moniker is because the seed pods are flat and resemble coins.
The family name comes from Latin for ‘resembling leaves of Brassica – cabbage, mustard or cress’ (Brassicaceae).
Family: Brassicaceae; Genus: Lunaria; Species: annua
Our next purple flower, although it is a pale purple, is in the same family as the daisy. The species name means like (oides) the Hawkweed (prenanth). Hawkweed is a dandelion-like yellow aster. The Crooked Stem Aster gets its common name from the zig-zag habit of its stem.
Crooked Stem Aster
Family: Compositae; Genus: Aster; Species: prenanthoides
As we learned in last week’s blog on yellow flowers, bees can only see yellow and blue so the next flower has ‘figured out’ its own method of luring bees to assist its pollination. Not only is the pollen of the flower brilliant blue but it has blue lines ‘leading’ the bees into the reproductive center of the flower.
The root contains ten to twenty percent tannin which makes it astringent and styptic. Just a few of the past uses of the root were to stop bleeding, treat gum diseases and hemorrhoids, and relieve stomach and kidney ailments.
Family: Geraniacae; Genus: Geranium; Species: maculatum
The last two flowers might easily be confused if it weren’t for a slight difference in color. They both belong to the family Asteraceae which is derived from the Latin Asteroides which means star-like or aster-like. So these last two purple wildflowers are our ‘stars’.
Family: Asteraceae; Genus: Veronia; Species: gigantia
New York Ironweed
Family: Asteraceae; Genus: Veronia; Species: novaboracensis
I hope you have enjoyed looking at the various colors of wildflowers. Next week I will be investigating more of the flowers in the Aster family of which, appropriately to the shortened days, the fall-blooming domestic Chrysanthemum is one.