San Rafael Valley, AZ ~~ Photo by Bill Haas

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


There are lovely, unexpectedly plentiful, wild flowers that bloom in late Summer and manage to thrill and delight all the way into early Winter. These specimens were photographed September through December in Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas parks and byways.
I have great affection for butterflies, painted ladies, nature's flying blooms, winged jewels -- however you want to refer to them. But photographing them takes a great deal of patience, skill and dedication, sadly lacking in yours truly. Most of those photographed here just happened to land on my primary focus, the wild flower. But as I recovered photos for this post, I yearned to identify them and give them proper names. Well, that's one way to kiss an entire day g'bye!
This one was fairly easy:
A Tropical Checkered Skipper
No, this photo was not taken in Baja; I found this Prickly Pear Cactus in Heiskell, Tennessee! Tennessee? Who knew?!
Our swamp guide told us he had been trying to run down the name of this flower for years, gave up and just named it "Swamp Daisy." Perhaps that really IS its name. It could be called "Nameless" for all I care -- it was everywhere we drifted, and it was like seeing little yellow smiles around every bend in the Bayou.
Tucked snugly amongst clover and leaves of freshly mown grass, this little Chicory is a true survivor. Chicory is usually a long-stemmed, leggy plant so I was surprised to find a group of them so close to the ground. They survived the mower and raised their little heads as soon as it passed by. (Or, most likely, it's simply a different variety!)
The butterfly identification process is going slowly! This is a Sulphur, but it could be a Clouded Sulphur, a Cloudless Sulphur or a Little Yellow Sulphur!
I discovered there are more than forty species of Swallowtail butterflies. This appears to be an Eastern Black Swallowtail
Spider Lillies must have a long blooming period. This one was spotted in Louisiana in October, but I first found it in the Florida Everglades in June.
A Red-Spotted Purple. (Who names these things anyway?!! Probably the same people who name streets in suburban housing tracts!!!)
Scorpion weed. Now that name fits!
Ubiquitous Clover
Milkweed butterflies include Queens, Soldiers and Monarchs and of those three, Monarchs and Queens outnumber the Soldiers! This is a Queen...
...and this is a Soldier
And this is a Gulf Fritillary that is partial to Marigolds, not Milkweed -- sure does look like it could belong with the Milkweeds, eh? Think I'll stick to identifying wild flowers!!
Considered by most a "noxious weed," I think Thistles are stunning -- to look at!
I found this inconspicuous, uncommon Asian Day Flower on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Its blooms stay on the stem for just 24 hours before falling off!
Spotted Jewel Weed, my favorite "new" discovery, is splashy and eye-catching. Then, when you get close to it ...well, click to enlarge the individual flower, and you'll see what I mean!
And here is its Plain Jane cousin, a yellow Jewel Weed, just as profuse, cheerful and sunny but spot-less.
Joe-Pye Weed -- love the name. This large, shrubby "weed" was loaded with butterflies (too flighty for my patience and lens!) Actually, when you think about it, wildflowers are just that: colorful weeds!
The next two photos are of cultivated, not wild, flowering shrubs. This one, found at Jefferson's Monticello, is included because it's unique, and I had never seen anything like it before. I also still don't know what it is!
The pendulous, velvety tassels of the Chenille plant, exotic and fascinating, are cattail-like pistillates borne only on female plants.