As the days get shorter, you don’t want to run out of opportunities to see summer flowers at the park. This post features many of the plants you’ll see at the park during summer months (June-August) including a few plants that have not previously been identified on the blog.
First, a common sight in Pennsylvania: Crown Vetch (below). Once hailed as the end of soil erosion, this conservationist’s dream is the gardener’s enemy. You won’t find much of it around the park, but our curbsides and hillsides are covered with Crown Vetch. Penn State University researchers introduced a modified version of Crown Vetch or “Penngift” in 1953 for the purpose of stabilizing soil, namely along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Yellow Jewelweed is a common sight throughout the park in July. Orange is its typical color, although Braddock’s Trail does not have that variety. Coincidentally, Jewelweed is found near Stinging Nettle in the park, and it can be used to treat the itching sensation that Stinging Nettle or other plants like poison ivy can induce.
There are many varieties of Fleabane which all have similar features, the most prominent being that they have a daisy-like appearance. Three common varieties found across the United States include Daisy Fleabane, Prairie Fleabane, and Philadelphia Fleabane. As far as we can tell, Braddock’s Trail houses Prairie Fleabane. Only subtle differences exist in the hundreds of varieties of fleabane across the country.
Pennsylvania Smartweed enjoys sun and disturbed soil, so you’ll see this pointy-leafed plant near the parking lot and gate. The flowers will barely open and usually appear as oval-shaped, pink buds as shown in the photo below. Smartweed is native to most states in the country and is considered a noxious weed in Minnesota.
White Avens blooms in early summer throughout much of the middle and eastern chunks of North America. Like Smartweed, it enjoys disturbed ground, and the parking lot is a great place to look for it. Unlike other flowers, it appears to be missing petals, forming five that are spaced apart evenly with green, pointed sepals in between each petal. Sometimes called Canada Avens, this plant was used by the Iroquois to create a “love medicine.”
Black Medic (Medicago lupulina) is often confused with Hop Clover (Trifolium campestre). Braddock’s Trail Park has the former near the parking lot area. Black Medic differs in two noticeable ways: 1) it has toothed leaves, particularly the pointed edge at the tip of the leaf; 2) the trifoliate leaf pattern is similar to Hop Clover, but the terminal leaf is on a longer stem than the two alternate leaves. This is visible in the photos below.
If you see a blue flower that looks rather incomplete, it’s probably Asiatic Dayflower, also called “mouse ears” for its two rounded petals. There aren’t many of these through the park, and though it shouldn’t be difficult to spot this bright blue, they are small. To make catching these a little more problematic, they only bloom for one day, hence the “dayflower.” As with many wildflowers, Asiatic Dayflower is edible, but please grow your own!
Maybe the most noticeable and brilliant of the summer flowers, Tall Bellflower (American Bellflower), can be seen blooming in June along the main road through the park. Its stalks grow taller than average humans and the blueish purple flowers attract hummingbirds and bees.
Be sure to sign up for a Wildflower Walk starting next April. Check back in March for an updated 2018 schedule.