Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Random Wildflower

I've been rather lax with weeding so far this year, partly because I'm cultivating a new attitude towards volunteers such as Carex comans, Prunella vulgaris, and wild strawberries, among others. One volunteer I noticed this year is a plant that also appeared a number of years ago and someone pulled it before it bloomed and I never found out what it was. But I still remembered the leaves, so when I saw them appear again this year, I made sure it was left alone to bloom. Amazing that I can remember the leaves of one unidentified weed that showed up possibly over 5 years ago when I forget so many other things.

The little clump of foliage started sending up long stalks with clusters of flower buds at the top. These buds finally opened to reveal five-petaled, pink flowers with bright yellow anthers. Now I could identify it!

Turns out these flowers belong to Zeltnera muehlenbergii, formerly part of the genus Centaurium and known by the common name of Muehlenberg's centaury. This annual wildflower is native from British Columbia south through California. It occurs in such diverse plant communities as sagebrush scrub, grasslands, evergreen and mixed forests, oak woodlands, and wetland/riparian zones. I'm surrounded by mixed evergreen forests, with a shallow lake bordered by wide wetlands not too far away, so there's plenty of habitat for it. I've never seen it in the park or along the road on my walks, but it must be around somewhere. I didn't catch one in a photograph, but the little native bees love it.


I don't really want it growing in the island bed where it has decided to grow (twice) but the bees love it and I'm learning to be more accepting of volunteers, especially native ones, even if they are pink. I plan on saving seed and scattering it along the dry creek bed (the big one, not the little one pictured above) and in some of the more open wooded areas.

10 comments:

  1. It's very pretty and saving the seeds and scattering them somewhere else sounds like a good idea.

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  2. What a delightful little native wildflower! I hope you get lots more next year.

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    1. Me, too. Hopefully they like where I put them.

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  3. I hope you can get it to grow where you want it. Wildflowers can be obstinate that way. It is so dainty, even in its pinkness, that I wouldn't mind it popping up most anywhere. Alas, it's one I have never run across. I'm lately taking a more laissez-faire attitude to things like prunella vulgaris too...actually saw it for sale in the natives section of Portland Nursery.

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    1. Me, too. Hopefully it cooperates. I'd hate to have to weed it out of the only place it wants to grow, but it really doesn't fit with my plans for the bed it's growing in. I remember seeing Prunella vulgaris growing at the garden at Plant Delights in NC. I couldn't believe they were trying to grow it on purpose! Now I've changed my attitude.

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  4. I'd like to congratulate you on your new attitude. A single care taker of a massive garden must adopt this approach to keep his head from spinning. Which weeds will you continue to pull out with vigor?

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    1. Haha, thanks Chav! I've been feeling more relaxed since I made the decision to let certain weeds grow in specific areas. Better them than less attractive, more invasive weeds. I'm still pulling dandelions, what I call poppers, thistles, plantain, grasses that invade the beds, and lots of others, but at least I don't have to pull everything now.

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  5. Pink isn't my favorite color either but it's awfully pretty. I'm glad you let it stay.

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    1. I let it stay for this summer. If it doesn't like where I spread the seeds this fall, it's out of luck. It is pretty, for a pink flower, but it really doesn't fit with my plans for that bed.

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