The Ohio State University at Marion


May Blooms

Bastard Toadflax


Comandra umbellata


Blooms May - June 


Bastard Toadflax is covered with flattened clusters of small white flowers. Each flower has 5 petal-like sepals that flare outward. This species is semi-parasitic because it gets nutrition from photosynthesis as well as from underground suckers to get both water and nutrition from the roots of other plants. This is one of the few herbaceous plants of the prairie that produces edible fruit, although they are quite small. These small oily fruits contain one seed and change in color from green to brown, and are said to have a sweet taste while still immature.


Blue Eyed Grass


Sisyrinchium angustifolium


Blooms May - July 


Blue Eyed Grass can be hard to find hidden amongst the taller prairie plants. The blooms of Blue Eyed Grass arrive in June and stay open in the mornings thru out the month. In the afternoon, the blooms close, which makes them even harder to spot. Blue-Eyed Grass is actually not a true grass, but a member of the Iris family, closely related to Blue Flag Iris


Blue Flag Iris


Iris shrevei


Blooms May - July 


This iris tends to form large clumps from thick, creeping rhizomes. The unwinged, erect stems generally have basal leaves that are more than 1 cm wide. Leaves are folded on the midribs so that they form an overlapping flat fan. The well developed blue flower has 6 petals and sepals spread out nearly flat and have two forms. The longer sepals are hairless and have a greenish-yellow blotch at their base. The inferior ovary is bluntly angled. Fruit is a 3-celled, bluntly angled capsule. The large seeds can be observed floating in fall. Poisonous to humans and animals.


Canada Goldenrod


Solidago canadensis


Blooms May - September


The plant is erect, often forming colonies; it is an aggressive spreader. Several flowering stems emerge from the top of the plant in the form of a panicle bearing masses of tiny flowers in compact heads. Flowers are yellow heads held above the foliage on a branching inflorescence.


Daisy Fleabane


Erigeron annuus


Blooms May - October 


Daisy Fleabane is one of the first in the Aster family to bloom each spring and continues to flower into autumn. The thin hairy stems carry the flower heads which are made up of white to pale pink ray flowers surrounding a yellow central disk flower. The plant can grow up to four feet tall.


Fox Gloved Beardstongue


Penstemon digitalis


Blooms May - June 


The long-blooming, pure white flowers of Foxglove Beardstongue appear in June and continue well into midsummer. Reaching two-to-three feet tall, the three-lobed lower portion of the flower acts as a landing pad for insects. As they crawl inside for a sip of nectar they inadvertently pollinate the flower. The flower petals give way to dark brown seed pods that must be crusted to release the seed.


Golden Alexander


Zizia aurea


Blooms May - June 


Golden Alexander has several 1-1/2 inch clusters of small bright yellow flowers growing amongst lush, heart shaped foliage. The flowers of this member of the Parsley Family bloom during the spring. Growing only one-to-two feet tall, Golden Alexander is an important food source for caterpillars of the Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly.


Golden Ragwort


Senecio aureus


Blooms May - June 


One of the first to bloom in early spring, Golden Ragwort grows to two feet tall. It has golden yellow daisy-like flowers that bloom in May and last into June. To help identify this Golden Ragwort, look to the lowest (basal) leaves of golden ragwort which resemble a heart shape.


Great Solomon's Seal


Polygonatrum canaliculatum/commutatum


Blooms May - June 


You may have to search for the blooms of Great Solomon's Seal. The cream-colored bell shaped flowers appear in clusters on the under side of the leaves. Flowers bloom in May and June and become deep blue colored berries in late summer. The plant has arching unbranched stems and leaves with three or more veins on each side of the midrib.


Hairy Wild Petunia


Ruellia humulis


Blooms May - October 


This native perennial plant that branches occasionally. The stems are light green and covered with white hairs. The opposite leaves are up to 2½" long and 1" wide. They are light green to green, with smooth margins, and are covered with white hairs on both the upper and lower sides. The leaves also have hairy petioles. The light lavender or light purple flowers are funnel-shaped, with 5 flared lobes. There is no noticeable floral scent. A flower typically opens during the morning and falls off the plant by evening.


Hemp Dogbane


Apocynum cannabinum


Blooms May - June 


The common name, Dogbane, refers to the plant's toxic nature, which has been described as "poisonous to dogs." Apocynum means "Away dog!" and cannabinum means "like hemp," in reference to the strong cordage that was made by weaving together the stem's long fibers. It has opposite leaves that secretes a milky sap when bruised or broken. The leaf's edges are smooth, not notched or toothed.


Meadow Parnsips


Thaspium trifoliatum


Blooms May - June 


This is a perennial plant with purple and sometimes yellow flowers. It has alternating leaves that are described as three-toothed leaflets. It lives in rich moist lands, typically in the eastern parts of the US.


New Jersey Tea


Ceanothus americanus


Blooms May - October 


New Jersey tea is a compact, rounded shrub. Clusters of tiny, fragrant, white flowers appear on long stalks at the stem ends or upper leaf axils in late spring. Young twigs are noticeably yellow and stand out in winter. Dried leaves were used as a tea substitute for black tea, albeit without caffeine, in American Revolutionary War times, hence the common name. It is a larval food source for the mottled Dusky-wing, and Spring Azure Butterfly.


Starry False Solomon's Seal


Smilacina stellata


Blooms May - August 


This native perennial plant is unbranched. The central stem is stout, smooth, and zigzags slightly. It usually reclines to the side somewhat. The alternate leaves are narrowly ovate, with parallel veins and smooth margins. The undersides of the leaves may be slightly pubescent. The central stem terminates in a single inflorescence consisting of small white flowers. This inflorescence is a narrow raceme (almost spike-like). Each flower has 6 narrow tepals, 6 stamens with yellow anthers, and a central pistil that is shaped like a vase with a long, narrow neck. When fully open, each star-like flower is about 1/3" across. There is a mild floral fragrance. Each flower is replaced by a small berry about ¼" across. The berries are initially green with purple or black stripes, but later become bright red.


Wild Four O' Clock


Mirabilis nycataginea


Blooms May - September 


Wild four o’clock is a perennial herb, sometimes woody at the base; reproduces by seed and by fragmented root pieces. The overall plant shape is bushy, and the stems are much branched. The stems are smooth, often four-sided, sometimes ridged and reddish. The stem branching is opposite and the stems are thickened at the nodes. The leaf arrangement is also opposite. The leaves are usually heart shaped. The flowers are found in terminal clusters, on forked branches. A short, hairy stalk supports each cluster of usually three to five flowers.