Fence rows and fields in North Texas and at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge have been glowing with “gold” at this time of year. Several wildflower favorites are contributing to this fall palette.
Maximilian sunflower is a cheery yellow wildflower that blooms from August to October and provides food for livestock, as a range plant, and seed and cover for wildlife. Helianthus maximiliani Schrad., called Maximilian sunflower, Max sunflower and Michaelmas-daisy, was named for the German explorer and naturalist, Prince Maximilian, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center native plant database. Maximilian explored the Great Plains of the U.S. in 1832.
|Maximilian sunflower, by Sue Malnory|
Max sunflower is a prairie perennial native to the eastern U.S. and grows throughout the U. S. as an introduced species and ornamental. Recognizable by multiple blooms along the unbranched, upright stalk It grows from 24” to 10’ tall, and reproduces by seed and by sprouting from the rhizome, which is edible. In addition to seed, it also provides nectar for bees and butterflies.
Also in the aster family is Gutierrezia sarothrae, with common names that include Broom snakeweed, Kindlingweed, Matchbrush, Texas snakeweed, Broomweed, Turpentine weed. Growing from 1 – 3’ tall, it is a small shrub-like plant covered in tiny yellow flowers. By bloom time the lower leaves have dropped off, giving it a delicate appearance.
|Broomweed, by Dick Malnory|
Broomweed is native throughout much of the western U.S. and blooms from August – November. It reproduces by seed and provides nectar for bees and butterflies and seed for birds. Dried plants can be tied together to fashion a “broom”.
Another yellow autumn wildflower, one that is considered a “bad actor” by many, is Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis L., also called Canada goldenrod, Canadian goldenrod, Tall goldenrod, or Giant goldenrod. Goldenrod is blamed for causing allergic reactions each fall, but according to NPIN, the reactions are caused mainly by pollen from the ragweed plant that blooms at the same time.
|Goldenrod, by Dick Malnory|
Goldenrod grows 3 – 6’ tall, and like the Maximilian sunflower, is perennial. It provides nectar for bees and butterflies and produces seeds. It will grow in most any soil and is tolerant of dry or moist conditions, Goldenrod is a native plant found in Canada and across the U. S. and blooms September – November.
So, using the phrase in a different context, "Go for the Gold" and enjoy the view.
"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
This post was originally published on October 4, 2012.