Monday, May 11, 2015

Wild flower detective work

I found a mystery plant growing among my Asiatic lilies and daffodils, and had to research it to figure out what it was.  First, I noticed that its flowers and stalk were similar to those of ground ivy (creeping charlie). I had recently learned that ground ivy was a near relative of mint, which completely made sense in light of its strong odor and invasive nature, plus its stem shape.  I put a photo of the plant on Facebook, and my friend Helga thought it looked like ajuga, which I also have in my yard.  It really was similar to ajuga, but the leaves were the wrong shape, but then I found out that ajuga is also in the family Lamiaceae, along with mint. Aha! So I started looking into other plants in Lamiaceae, but it’s a huge family.  But I knew I was on the right track. Finally, after looking at lots of categories of Lamiaceae, I hit upon some combination of key words that led me to the answer: Salvia lyrata, also known as lyre-leaf sage, a native wildflower.  I forget how I finally figured it out exactly, but I think I tried looking for lobe-leafed salvias and spotted it.

Anyway, I am happy to figure it out.  The information I read indicates that it reseeds easily and can be invasive, but since it’s a native flowering plant I think I’m OK with that.  That’s what I want.

Salvia lyrata

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