Types of Flowers
From small rewards, such as being able to identify the flowers on a nature walk or planning a garden, to larger biological diversity issues such as discovering the flowers associated with the survival of endangered butterflies, flower identification has many merits.
Most formal lessons on flower identification focus a good deal attention on flower structure, emphasizing the shape and numbers of petals and leaves as key identification clues.
Flower color represents a less formal way to organize a flower identification guide.
Many people who are not trained in the language of botany can easily recognize a blue, red or yellow flower when they see one. Having a guide to native flowers in their area based on color provides a quick and easy way to begin the identification process.
Thirteen different Calicoflower species (Downingia) grow with blue, purple and white shaded petals.
The Elegant Calicoflower or Elegant Downingia (Downingia elegans), fairly common in Western North America, grows low to the ground, often as part of a large community of plants, in wetlands areas.
The picture shows the flower enlarged by a factor of three in order to highlight its details.
Bach's Downingia or Bach's calicoflower (Downingia bacigalupii) grows close to the ground, often in large mats, in wetlands areas in northern areas of the Western United States.
Picture two shows a group of Bach's Downingia with the flowers enlarged by a factor of two to highlight their details. The large yellow spots on the petals along with the darker purple to blue veins are good identification clues.
Dayflowers (Commelina erecta) move the blue flower conversation from the west to the east, with thirteen different species documented east of the Rocky Mountains.
A few Commelina species are introduced and naturalized. Most of the species are characterized by the blue petals that bloom for a day and then fade.
Bluehead Gilia (Gilia capitata), an annual flowering plant in the Phlox family (Polemoniaceae), sometimes goes by the name Globe Gilia because the flowers pop up as groups of tiny balls sitting in sunny areas up and down the West Coast.
Picture three relates another of the flower's attributes. It's a butterfly magnet.
The Forget-me-not flower refers to about a dozen flowering plants in the Myosotis genus of the Borage family (Boraginaceae).
Their story is legendary. According to the Journal Nature (vol XVI, 1877), the etymology of the name goes as follows:
"The forget-me-not was originally the germander speedwell, whose blossoms, falling off and flying 'away as soon as it is plucked, gave emblematic force to the name.
It was known in the days of chivalry as the "flower of souvenance," and was embroidered into the collars of the knights, a fact still recalled by its German name Ehrenpreis, prize of honour.
About 200 years ago we find the name given to the ground-pine, Ajuga chanuepitys, whose nauseous taste once realised can never be forgotten.
Finally it was seized upon by the river-side Myosotis, and forthwith sprung up a charming legend, created obviously to suit its latest identification, how that while two lovers loitered by a lake, the maiden saw and longed for the bright blue flowers, the knight plunged in to get them, but, unable to regain the shore, had yet agility enough to fling them into his lady's lap, and then with a last devoted look and the words "forget me not," sank below the waves for ever."
Their sentimental standing as a flowering plant of mostly temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere takes two forms.
With now over three hundred years of mythology surrounding Myosotis, the first form, positive sentimentality, is understandable.
Both native and non-native myosotis flowers thrive in garden and natural settings throughout most of the United States. Alaska calls one species, Myosotis alpestris, the Alpine Forget-me-not, its official state flower.
The second sentiment notes the ability of some myosotis species to be a bit aggressive and weedy by nature, as if they insist that none forget-them not. More than a couple states label some species as invasive.
Gentian in bloom signals the waning of the summer season.
Newberry's Alpine Gentian (Gentiana newberryi var. newberryi) is the less common of the two varieties of Gentiana newberryi. It grows in a couple of high elevation locations in the Southern Cascades of Oregon and Northern California.
The cobalt blue flowers are complimented by matching red to purple spots on the inside and the red to purple stripes along the outside. If you find the right alpine meadow, finding the flower is straightforward because hundreds can bloom at the same time.
The other variety (Gentiana newberryi var. tiogana) has white flowers and grows in the High Sierras of California and Nevada.
Gentian seeds and seedlings are readily available for gardens across North America. Native plants grow at all altitudes from sea side to mountain tops. Checking to insure potential garden choices match individual garden environments provides the greatest assurance of successful cultivation.
© 2009-2012. Patricia A. Michaels