More Sparklers

by Carl Strang

Today I’m sharing the next group of flowering weeds at Mayslake Forest Preserve. Like sparklers or other fireworks, these often are annuals or biennials, colorful but short-lived. I also include non-native species and undesirables in this category. Three of this group are North American in origin: common evening primrose,

Common evening primrose 2b

horse-nettle (the name refers to its spines),

Horse-nettle b

and black nightshade, a smaller member of the same genus (Solanum).

Black nightshade b

The remaining plants have their origins in Europe or Eurasia. New to my experience was the showy centaury, blooming in huge numbers along the edge of St. Paschal Drive.

Centaury b

Black mustard resembles its early season relative, winter cress, from a distance.

Black mustard b

Catnip plants can be found here and there around the preserve.

Catnip b

The next one, common groundsel, is easy to miss. These flowers look like they are preparing to open into something more spectacular, but they already are in full bloom.

Common groundsel b

The first of the wild lettuces at Mayslake is the prickly lettuce.

Prickly lettuce b

Now for some true undesirables: bull thistle,

Bull thistle b

bird’s foot trefoil, a legume which can become problematic in open areas,

Bird's foot trefoil b

and cut-leaved teasel, which can take over entire patches of ground.

Teasel b

So far, at least, these last three species occur only in small numbers at Mayslake.

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