Flora Fridays – June 14, 2024

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June Roadside Flora

Kousa dogwood – Cornus kousa

While a boy scout, one of my favorite sights on campouts were dogwood blooms poking through the understory and forest borders. This native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is our state flower and thrives in shaded environments. It’s cousin from Asia, Cornus kousa, is a much more resilient choice to plant in sunny southern landscapes. It is resilient in sunny locations, standing out with its deep green leaves and cream white to pink blooms. Grow this specimen in acidic, well drained soil. It is somewhat drought tolerant once established and will not tolerate waterlogged soil.This plant can also be trimmed back and grown as a shrub.This tree has unique features year round. Starting with colorful blooms in the spring, deep green foliage in the summer turning purple-orange in the fall, and finally its peeling bark is attractive to the eye in winter.

Cornus kousa as a specimen plant

Cornus kousa bracts and flowers

Mealy collic root – Aletris farinosa

This plant can be easily missed when traveling across Montgomery County. Mealy colic-root, Aletris farinosa, is a native plant found in moist organic soils. In our region, this includes pine flatwoods, seepage bogs, mafic fens, upland woodlands, and roadsides. This perennial spreads by underground rhizome, and each summer produces a white spike inflorescence that can be over 3 feet tall. For those following Flora Fridays, it looks similar to Spiranthes orchids from a distance. When I visited the site, there was a buzz of insect activity in the air. Its flowers provide ample forage for pollinator insects, as seen in the below pictures. True to its name, upon close inspection one can see the individual flowers are quite mealy, or granular and bumpy.

Aletris farinosa in a roadside superbloom

Aletris farinosa flower close up

Aletris farinosa visited by a native skipper

We hope you have enjoyed this edition of Flora Fridays! I know I did. Please consider leaving feedback in the box below. At Extension, we are here to listen to and address your needs.

Check out past Flora Fridays.