Wildflowers and Trees
 

Wildflowers

Roadside blooms begin as early as March and may last into November and you'll see many wildflowers while driving. Others can be discovered on hikes into the woods. Take the time to stop and enjoy, identify and photograph them to add to the enjoyment of your trips through the county. 

Some of the early spring flowers include Blue-Eyed Grass, Dutchman's Britches, Bird's-foot Violet, Wake Robin, Dog-tooth Violet or Trout Lily, and Blood-root. Dutchman's Britches has a dark green fern-like leaf and dainty, bending columns festooned with small, creamy-white flowers that look like ballooned trousers hung upside down on a line. Plants are 5-9 inches tall and begin blooming in March on damp, wooded hillsides. Wake Robin (Trillium recurvatum) stands 8-12 inches on a long slender stem with a three-leafed top and a center flower that may be yellow-green or maroon.

 Wild Iris

The Bird's foot violet is another woods flower. It is a viola and the flowers and leaves look like domestic pansies. Flowers have dark purple upper petals and lavender lower petals. The plants are four inches tall and bloom in April and May. Long banks filled with them are common along the highway in the southern part of the county. The tiny flowers of blue-eyed grass won't be easily spotted by those who dash by the meadows and open woods. You'll have to stop and look for this 8-12 inch plant with its grassy leaves and dainty bright-blue flowers which bloom late March through April. 

Spring beauty (Claytonia Virginica) may show up in your lawn as well as woods and open areas all over the county. It's white to delicate pink blooms are veined with slightly darker color and its leaves are long and slender. Flowers bloom in small clusters. The Blood-root's big dark green leaf has a pale underside and comes up wrapped up, gradually opening Out as the single waxy-white flower blooms on the separate stem in the center. The plant is 6-8 inches tall and blooms very early. It gets its name from the red sap in the roots.

Summer flowers include the Black-Eyed Susan, common along the roadsides everywhere, Butterfly Weed, Purple Coneflower, Wild Sweet William, Queen Anne's Lace and Tickseed Coreopsis. Black-Eyed Susans are a vibrant yellow daisy with black centers that may bloom as early as May and usually last until October. Plants may be slightly over two feet tall. Butterfly Weed is a tall plant with a milky stem, profuse small, dark green leaves, and big heads of tiny bright orange flowers. They, too, enjoy open spaces and are often found along roadsides. They take their name from their attraction to butterflies. Purple Coneflower grows up to three feet high and bloom from May to July. Pale lavender petals droop downwards from conical black centers of the flowers.

Wild Sweet William is a phlox and ranges from white to dark lavender in color. The sweetly perfumed flower-cluster heads appear on stems about 10-12 inches tall from April through June. Queen Anne's Lace may be as much as 5 feet tall. It has a leaf similar to a carrot and wide, flat heads of lacy white flowers. There are several species of coreopsis and they can bloom at various times from April to September. The eight petals of the flower are arranged around a darker center and stand 2-4 feet tall.

Fall flowers include several species of goldenrod which can grow up to four feet tall and blooms from August to November. The feathery yellow heads look similar to corn tassels. The Aster is purple in color with yellow centers and grows 2-5 feet tall, blooming late July through October on woody stems heavily leafed.

Trees

Old Twisted Cedar Tree overlooking The Buffalo River

 

 

Did you know some of those twisted and gnarled cedar trees on the cliffs overlooking the river may be as much as 800 years old? A study of the story told by their rings is helping scientists understand climate changes and water cycles over the centuries. Trees are valuable Ozark Mountain friends for many reasons - their lumber, shade, fruits. beauty and the role they play in providing clean air. Among them, you can easily identify some of them on your walks or drives with the following information. Visit your library, the Forest Service Ranger Stations, or the County Extension office for more information on trees of the area.

Flowering Dogwood is a beautiful tree averaging, in this area, to be about 25 feet. You can see its showy white flowers between April and May and its fruit, a bright red berry, between September and December. On older trees, the Dogwoods bark tends to be gray to black and broken into small, scaly blocks. Dogwoods are located statewide and are usually found on hillsides, coves, slopes, in shady areas, and sometimes on low ground.

Dogwood Falls

Sarvis is often mistaken for the Dogwood. Like the Dogwood it has white flowers, but these flowers bloom much earlier, between February and April. Its fruit ripen between April and May. Again like the Dogwood it has red berries but these are edible and turn blue as they ripen. The Sarvice, or Service berry is named so because its early flowers were gathered for church services. Sarvices are located statewide and commonly found or open hillsides and rocky slopes.

Another flowering tree is the Red Bud. It is known for its abundance of small, pink or rose colored flowers that bloom from March to May. These flowers appear before the Red Bud's light green heart-shaped leaves. The Red Bud is found statewide except in overflow areas of larger rivers. It can be located on hillsides and in soils that are moist.

The Umbrella Magnolia tree is usually small, hardly ever growing beyond 40 feet. Its bark is light gray and marked by small bumps. The Umbrella Magnolia has large leaves that are often 14-22 inches long and 8-10 inches wide. The large, ill smelling, white, Magnolia flower blooms between April and June. Its fruit, a blunt crooked cone, grows from September to October. The Umbrella Magnolia is often located in the Ozark and Ouachita mountain regions; commonly in valley coves, headwater areas of some streams and mountainous counties.

The Pawpaw is a small tree with smooth gray bark. It has a straight trunk and long straight slender brittle limbs. Its flowers are cup­shape of deep reddish brown and appear to look leathery. The flower blooms before the Papaw's light green, eight to ten inch leaves. Its fruit is soft when ripe and greenish yellow to very dark brown. The Pawpaw is located statewide and found most often in moist areas, along streams, rivers, and coves.

Nice Autumn Leave on Bluff

 

 

 

The Eastern Red Cedar tree is generally 40 to 50 feet tall; with the crown of the tree pointed. Its bark is a thin, reddish brown. The leave are oblong and flattened and dark green. Its flowers, small and cone like, bloom from January to March. The fruit are berry-like cones, that grow from June to winter. The French-Canadians called this tree "Baton Rouge" or red stick. The Eastern Red Cedar is located statewide and may often occur in small stream valleys, and on flat soils where it tends to grow favorably.

The Black Walnut tree is normally 100 feet tall and four feet in diameter. It's bark is dark reddish brown with ridges. The Black Walnut's leaves are compound leaves (15-23 leaflets on the same stalk) one to two feet long and are usually yellowish green. The male flowers are three inch long catkins and the female are round, without petals, green and are found at the ends of new twigs. The fruit of the Black Walnut is a nut enclosed in a rough green husk that gradually turns black. The Black Walnut's kernels are valuable for flavoring uses. The Black Walnut can be found statewide especially in slopes, ravines, gullies and flood plains of small streams.

Excerpts from Newton County Action Team Pathways


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