Photo and article by Donna Iverson
There are a few popular Midwest native annual flowers you’ve probably familiar with, like sunflowers and black-eyed Susans. But there are a lot that you have probably never heard of that are under appreciated.
They have names like partridge pea, daisy fleabane, wild cucumber vine, sneezeweed, American basket flower, lemon bergamot, blanket flower, snow on the mountain, blue-eyed Mary, and my favorite, spotted jewelweed.
Don’t let their names deter you. These native plants offer many advantages to gardeners. They will often grow where nothing else will, need little water or fertilizer, and deter invasive weeds. Also, they are tough and replant themselves year after year.
In his book Native Plants of the Midwest, horticulturist Alan Branhagen, goes so far as to call them “earth healers.” When land is disturbed, they are the first plants to show up and they pave the way for the more widely recognized perennials, he writes.
Native annuals are also beautiful, like jewelweed with its blue-green leaves and spotted yellow-orange flowers that bloom all summer and into fall. It is native across the entire Midwest and found where soil is damp, especially near wetlands. It is also found in meadows, woods, and ditches.
Another name for jewelweed is “touch me not.” When the lip-shaped flowers are touched or brushed against, the seeds burst out. This is how the plant propagates itself and entertains children. A pollinator plant popular with bees, jewelweed also provides food for grouse and pheasants.
Finding native annual plant seeds in seed catalogs is difficult, although the Seeds of Change catalog has a few. As native annual flowers become more popular, more seed catalogs can be expected to expand their offerings to include these flowers. Of course, you can collect the seeds yourself in the fall before the first frost.
Whether collected or purchased, the seeds will need cold stratification, which is a fancy word for needing to be refrigerated for a few months before they are planted in the spring. There are two varieties of native jewelweed, Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) and Impatiens pallida (yellow jewelweed). These two varieties refer to the color of the flowers.
While experienced foragers will tell you that the flowers, leaves, young shoots and seeds of jewelweed are edible, they must be boiled in at least one change of water, to remove high levels of calcium oxalate.
On the medicinal side, jewelweed is widely known as a treatment for poison ivy rash. Ironically, Jewelweed often grows near poison ivy so beware of that when you spot it. Herbalists recommend you break off a stem and rub the sap on the affected area.
So next spring, bypass those petunias and marigolds, and consider a native annual instead.
Summer Reading Finales, End Dates, & More Coming to Fremont Library
The Fremont Area District Library continues to offer lots of fun and educational events this summer, but just a reminder that the adult and teen Summer Reading Programs end on July 28th, so be sure to turn in your reading logs and collect your prizes by that date! Children can continue turning in their reading logs until the end of August. Here’s what’s coming July 25th-30th:
The library’s Summer Reading Program encourages families to read together so that kids maintain or improve their reading skills throughout the summer and enter school ready to succeed in the fall. Visit the Fremont Area District Library to get signed up and start earning prizes.
This year’s Summer Reading Program is generously sponsored by: Blades Hair Design
CBD Store of Michigan, Dave’s Auto Clinic, Elsie’s Ice Cream, Fremont Cinemas, Geers Family Chiropractic, Happy Hearts Naturals, Koffee Kuppe, Meijer, Moon Dance Café, Newaygo County Council for the Arts, Northern Rustic Designs, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Red Pine Crafts, Rite Aid, SHB Gifts & Décor, Spanky's, The Original Print Shop, Tractor Supply Co., Walmart, Discovery Toys (Pat Durham), Friends of the Fremont Area District Library, and the Fremont Area Community Foundation.
Friends Summer Book Sale at Fremont Library
The Friends of the Fremont Area District Library are busy preparing for their annual used book sale, which will be held during the National Baby Food Festival in the library’s Community Room.
The sale will begin Wednesday, July 20th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. with a sale for Friends members only (memberships may be purchased at the sale). The public sale will be held on Thursday, July 21st from 9:00-4:00 p.m. and Friday, July 22nd from 9:00-3:00 p.m.
Along with a variety of books covering many genres, the sale will also offer videos, audio books, music, games and toys, plus items from the Friends Gift Shop.
All proceeds from the sale go to support library programming and library materials for children, teens, and adults. Join us July 20th-22nd and discover a treasure!