Three Easy Winter Plants

by Carl Strang

One reason to appreciate plants in winter is to expand one’s ability to identify them in any stage and season. Some are easier than others to identify, and today I will focus on three that are both common and distinctive. The most widely distributed of these, Queen Anne’s lace, is not native to North America.

It has the appearance of an umbrella’s ribs from which the fabric has been torn. You may find it open, as above, or closed.

When flowering, these heads likewise have two forms. In some cases there is a purple flower in the center,

and in some, that flower is missing.

Numerous experiments have failed to demonstrate a difference in seed set between the two. Today’s second species is the common evening primrose. Its flowers in late summer were pale yellow.

In winter, the appearance is distinctive even at a distance.

Up close, the stalk is topped with a cluster of vase-shaped pods distinctively spreading at the tips.

Yet a third unmistakable shape is the spherical seed head of the wild bergamot.

The seed head is composed of tiny tubes radiating in every direction. Step back a little and the plant still is unique in appearance.

This species has become so successful in prairie and savanna restoration projects, spreads so readily, and also has become popular in garden plantings, that finding them in winter is no challenge. Here is one reason for its popularity.

Soon we’ll have green plants again to enjoy.

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