Late Summer Wild Flowers Along the Bike Trail

Swamp Milkweed

Change is in the air.  The last plants to bloom are bursting forth with a vengeance. The evenings are cool and care is taken that windows are not left wide open upon retiring for the night. As for the hours of darkness, they are getting longer as the earth steadily increases its tilt of the northern hemisphere away from the sun. Fall is in the air.  The warmth of the sun continues but when the feathery mounds of clouds pass between, the air is notably cooler. Yes, summer is drawing to a close. With that in mind, I have a few featured photos this evening of plants not previously selected for display. It’s not that they are unattractive, it’s more the lack of initiative to stay on top of the swollen file of “captures not yet edited, categorized and labeled”.

Common Mullein

Leading off is the colorful Swamp Milkweed, one of the 12 varieties of milkweed said to be found in Minnesota.  I’ll just say ok to that. Darned if I could break out many of the other varieties. This variety was prolific in the wetter areas and as you can see, puts on quite a colorful display. Although it is said to vary in color from light pink to the bold color shown here, I failed to find the paler variety in our area. Another common plant that grows in many of the ditches and along the edges of the paved trail is the Common Mullein. It grows from 2 to 4 feet tall and is notable by its hairy rough leaves, long blooming shaft  and yellow flowers. As with most of the other plants along the Central Lakes Trail, bees and other insects were frequently found on these flowers as well. It’s a biennial plant that is also deemed as being noxious in some states and locals.  In the past, it was widely used for herbal remedies with emollient and astringent properties. It was especially recommended for coughs and related problems, but also used in topical applications against a variety of skin problems.

Prairie Onion

Finally, the last capture for tonight is of the Prairie Onion.  I was amazed to find these magnificent flowers suddenly appear along the trail. The long narrow stem has a single, display of multiple flowerets. The purple petals with long, gold tipped stamens are quite impressive for sure. Not surprising, the bulbs of wild onions have a strong flavor but can be eaten raw or parboiled.  I discovered that early explorers ate them, and they were also used by settlers to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects.

Once again, I hope at least one of the photos or descriptions brightened your day. My after work rides out on the trail have reached a new level of priority to “get in” before dark. However, just this past week I’ve discovered another fascinating plant that I’ll be sure to post in the near future.  And the angle of the late afternoon sun this time of year; well I find it almost irresistible. That’s it for now. Have a safe night.