Fall wildflowers are putting on a show!

Deep purples, golden yellows, frosty whites. Leaves show blushes of purple around the edges, and we notice a few fall out of the corner of our eye. We dig out jackets for the cooler mornings. Fall greets summer and slowly shows it to the door.

For me, the fall wildflowers announce the changing of seasons as much as the weather or the changing leaves. This floral color show precedes the changing of the leaves, but is no less exciting. If you need a little encouragement to do a fall color tour of our native wildflowers, hopefully the pictures below will do the job.

Rigid goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigidum) near the Paint Creek Heritage Area - Wet Prairie.
Rigid goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigidum) near the Paint Creek Heritage Area – Wet Prairie.
Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) at Paint Creek Heritage Area - Wet Prairie.
Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) at Paint Creek Heritage Area – Wet Prairie.
Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia glauca) at the Paint Creek Heritage Area - Wet Prairie.
Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia glauca) at the Paint Creek Heritage Area – Wet Prairie.
Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) in the native plantings near the dock at Lost Lake Nature Park.
Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) in the native plantings near the dock at Lost Lake Nature Park.
Close-up of New England aster flowers at Draper Twin Lake Park.
Close-up of New England aster flowers at Draper Twin Lake Park.
New England Aster (Symphotrichum novea-angliae) in the fields at Draper Twin Lake Park.
New England Aster (Symphotrichum novea-angliae) in the fields at Draper Twin Lake Park.
Bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) at Paint Creek Heritage Area - Wet Prairie).
Bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) at Paint Creek Heritage Area – Wet Prairie).
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) in the wetlands at Draper Twin Lake Park.
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) in the wetlands at Draper Twin Lake Park.
Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) lights up an old brome field at Draper Twin Lake Park.
Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) lights up an old brome field at Draper Twin Lake Park.
Nodding beggar-ticks flowers in the marsh at Draper Twin Lake Park. Not a flattering name, but the yellow flowers are bold statement.
Nodding beggar-ticks flowers in the marsh at Draper Twin Lake Park. Not a flattering name, but the yellow flowers are bold statement.

Many of the most beautiful native wildflowers (in my opinion) only grow in fairly high quality natural areas, like the areas protected by our parks. With constant pressure from invasive species and other threats, just leaving these natural areas alone won’t make them better. Usually, leaving these areas to be “wild” backfires, and we end up losing the special features that we set out to protect. That’s why we have a stewardship program at Oakland Township Parks: to steward natural areas that we, as a community, have agreed possess value for native plants, for wildlife, and for our residents.

What wildflowers do you love to see in the fall? Let me know if the comments below!

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About Ben VanderWeide

I am the Natural Areas Stewardship Manager for Oakland Township Parks and Recreation in southeast Michigan. I have a doctorate in biology (focused on plant ecology) and I am passionate about protecting and managing natural areas.

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