Archive for February 16th, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #11- Wildflowers

My lifestyle, as I continue to tour the country, has provided an abundance of opportunities to enjoy wildflowers every day.  I would venture to say I have more photos saved of wildflowers than any other single subject, and the colors draw from a palette of millions.  There are a couple of themes that stick with me as I come across them.

One sentiment I often feel is that at least some of these floral organisms will grow in any environment I run across, from arid desert heat to ice-covered rock face, dark forest bed, wet marshland, rainforest, sandy beach or dry riverbed.   Nature seems to adapt to any situation.  In high-elevation settings you’ll see miniature alpine blossoms.  On a rocky cliff side, you’ll often see multi-colored lichen overtaken by moss, then vines with soft pastel flowers.   Even most desert cacti bloom annually.

​Another is the sheer variety of color, size, shape and brilliance of wildflowers, depending on what is needed for them to be successful where they are.  Most require pollination by bees, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds or other nectar feeders, and it’s not difficult to see that the variety aids in their survival and helps spread their species.  Even the wind can determine the type of wildflowers you will find, with those stems and flowers that can bend and resist destruction being more prevalent in gusty regions.

Interestingly, some flowers can be found across the U.S., while others are specific to one locale.  It can be comforting to see wild sunflowers, coneflowers or musk mallows everywhere you drive, a sort of continuity that can sooth the awkward exploration of a new location.  On the other hand, it can be exciting to see Texas bluebonnets, California poppies, Colorado columbines or the yellow jessamines of the Carolinas.

Once all flowers were wildflowers.  They have been beautifying the earth for over 130 million years, sustaining a complex mixture of interdependent systems, insects and other wildlife.  During winter months, when there is less food available for wildlife, wildflower seeds can be an important food source for birds and small mammals.

They provide soil erosion protection, seemingly oblivious to all sorts of extreme weather.  Some are native to the land in which they live, while many were brought by people in other parts of the world.  All non-native plants are considered invasive, so we must make sure we do not move any plants into a region in which they are not native.  Wildflowers also contribute to scientific and medical research and some wildflowers contain compounds that can be used in drugs to treat diseases. For example, foxgloves contain chemicals used to treat cardiac issues.

You may ask what the difference is between weeds and wildflowers.  Weeds are plants that are in the wrong place and often compete for resources with nearby plants.  Wildflowers are in their natural setting and aren’t usually competitive enough to be considered problematic.


I’ll finish up the topic by sharing a quote from a famous American author, John Steinbeck:  “Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.

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