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Late Season Wildflowers

September 1, 2015  |  Permalink

It is the time of year when colors are on your mind. The fall color season for 2015 is almost here and the trees will soon be turning. But before the trees are all in their splendor there are some wonderful colors to be enjoyed from wildflowers. The late summer and fall flowers are overlooked by a lot of people but I think they are as beautiful and interesting as the earlier ones. I would like to share a few of my favorite late season flowers with you and encourage you to get out and see the numerous others that decorate the parks this time of year.

In open areas with a good amount of moisture you can find Ironweed with its dark purple flowers and Joe Pye Weed with its light pink flowers. These two often grow together in old fields and can get to be 6 to 12 feet tall.  

I look forward to seeing the heavenly blue color of the Mist Flower starting in August. Many people love this so much it has become a popular garden plant. It is usually found in open sunny areas.  A taller close relative with white flowers is Snakeroot, which grows in partially shady areas in forests. Snakeroot has a rootstock that reminded botanists of Medusa’s head.

For many people, the symbol of September is Goldenrod. There are several species, all with yellow flowers and growing in a variety of generally dry habitats. The beautiful flowers are to attract the attention of insect pollinators.  Please do not blame the beautiful Goldenrod for the hay fever mainly caused by Ragweed. Ragweed is wind pollinated and blooms at the same time.

My very favorite late season flowers are the Lobelias. The Great Blue Lobelia and the Cardinal Flower have exquisite colors. They can be found in wet areas like stream corridors. These are just to look at because they are quite toxic.

Before the peak of the fall color season there are wonderful colors to enjoy. Get to know these plants and you may want to go for a fall wildflower walk to share these beautiful flowers with your friends.

About the author

Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath is a native of west Tennessee, where his family’s farm was just 15 miles from the Tennessee River. After graduating from UT Martin and working seasonally for several years for the National Park Service and Tennessee State Parks, he has spent the last 33 years with state parks. Randy worked as a ranger/naturalist at South Cumberland State Park on the Cumberland Plateau and at Radnor Lake Natural Area in Nashville until 2007 when he was given the opportunity to be the statewide naturalist for the state park system.