Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Gary’s Spring Wildflowers

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu. Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

421_fig_1spiderwortjpg
Figure 1. Blue Ohio spiderwort.
Photo: Gary Parish.


421_fig_2_oxalisjpgFigure 2. Violet wood-sorrel or oxalis, a native Louisiana wildflower.
Photo: Gary Parish.


421_fig_3_mintjpgFigure 3. A mint plant in flower.
Photo: Gary Parish.

Louisiana Wildflowers

Gary P. was enjoying the great outdoors, and then he sent emails with several clear pictures of some wildflowers, “I have noticed these [wildflowers] growing wild in the wooded areas around our property. [After] Looking on the LSU site, I have not been able to find a name or [a] guide that shows the smaller woodland plants. Can you give me some guidance either where to be able to find a guide or what these are? They are small plants about 6-10” high.

A search for “Louisiana wildflower guide” yielded several publications about our wildflowers. One field guide is entitled, Louisiana Wildflower Guide by Dr. Charles Allen and others. Dr. Allen is “an accomplished authority on the native plants of Louisiana” and has published several books about native Louisiana plants.

Another search for “Louisiana wildflower app” also yielded positive results for apps to upload to cell phones, and folks who enjoy wildflowers can learn the names of plants from their devices. Some apps are so clever that you can capture an image, and the device will provide the name quickly.

The first of Gary’s wildflower images, shown to the left, is a spiderwort, and it has several common names: Blue Ohio spiderwort, blue jacket, or common spiderwort. An online Louisiana nursery sells this plant for $7.99 so it has monetary value to gardeners.

Dan Gill, retired AgCenter horticulturist, shared these comments, “Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is another native wildflower blooming in spring with triangular-shaped flowers in shades of blue to lavender-blue. Garden varieties are often hybrids with larger flowers and more robust growth, but the lovely wild forms you see in roadside ditches are also nice. They are well adapted to damp areas or average garden beds.”

The second plant to the left is Gary’s picture of violet wood-sorrel. Most of the information from the AgCenter’s website addresses the control of this plant as a weed. Mississippi State University Extension reports, “Oxalic acid can be toxic when consumed in large quantities because it inhibits the absorption of calcium.” Penn State Extension provides this point, “Oxalic acid is a naturally-occurring compound found in plants, such as rhubarb, kale, beets, and spinach. “

However, oxalis is the source of oxalic acid, an important, approved control of varroa mites in honeybees. Penn State Extension reports, “As a chemical for mite control, oxalic acid can be used in two formulations: vapor and dribble. Because it does not penetrate the cappings, oxalic acid is most effective during broodless periods making it a useful component to an integrated varroa control program as a winter or early spring method.”

In the woodland landscape, the wood-sorrel is part of the natural ecosystem. However, some varieties of wood-sorrel are available as ornamentals through online nurseries

The last plant in this wildflower article is mint. Jessie Hoover, an AgCenter horticulture agent, wrote this narrative about mint, “There are many kinds of mint grown in Louisiana including spearmint, peppermint and orange mint. All these mints are hardy perennials and are among the easiest and most popular garden mints. They may be started from seed, but cuttings are generally recommended. Mints prefer sun but will take shade. They are true perennials, but mint beds should be renewed every three to four years. Mints are harvested for their stems and leaves and the more frequent the harvest the better the plant grows. Stalks should be removed before they go to seed.”

Finally, here is a word of warning about mint. It can be invasive so planting it in a bordered site or in a container will keep mint where you want it to grow.

4/21/2020 3:54:02 PM
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