The husband and I went southwest down to Sigourney, IA, a week ago,1 and I was kind of shocked at how many things seemed to be blooming along the side of the road. I guess it hadn't occurred to me that summer was necessarily a bigger time for that than spring, but it pretty definitely seems to be.
So I know some of them, but there are a few that I can't identify, and one of the NOIDs has been bothering me for several years now, but for some reason it only just occurred to me to ask the internet. I suppose because I didn't have a picture until now.
(I've also thrown in a few other plants that I didn't see on the trip, because they're also weedy and they fit this post better than they could fit another one later.)
So, Iowa roadside stuff. I suppose we should get the obvious one out of the way first:
Not really amber waves just yet, but still. That's a whole lot of photosynthesis there, my friends. Oxygen!
I've always liked milkweeds. The leaves get no attention but are actually quite nice. Somebody should slap together a tropical version of these that can be grown indoors.
Or maybe not. "Yeah? You got mealybugs? Well listen, buddy, I'd kill to trade for mealybugs right now. I got monarch caterpillars all over my bed, my toothbrush, the kitchen sink; chrysalises (chrysali?) blocking the air vents and dangling over the toilet; and we can't even watch TV anymore because as soon as we turn it on, all these butterflies jump up and fly into the screen. So I don't even want to hear about your mealybug problems."
Very patchily distributed. Maybe a deliberate planting. Damn pretty in large quantity.
Not a good picture, but I don't like black-eyed susans well enough to care, apparently.
These were everywhere in certain areas, which surprised me: I don't remember seeing them as a child, and I grew up not far from Sigourney, so it's a puzzler. I remember violets, asters, milkweed, plantains, red clover, white clover and dandelions; surely I would have noticed chicory, had it been there.2
This is the NOID that's been troubling me. Again, I don't remember seeing it as a kid, and yet now it's everywhere -- large stretches of I-80 are lined with it on one side of the road or another. Occasionally both. It's such a vivid yellow that I can't imagine how I would have missed it all those years. So is it new? Invasive? What is this thing?
UPDATE: Julia, in comments, says it's the birdsfoot trefoil, or birdfoot deervetch (Lotus corniculatus), which does appear to be the case. I'll be back to add to the post again if I can find out anything about what it's doing in Iowa.
This one sort of looks related to the yellow NOID; they both produce small circles of flowers, and they tend to grow in the same places. If I remember right, though, the foliage is completely different. So maybe not.
UPDATE: When I was watering perennials yesterday at work, I saw that we actually have this for sale. It wasn't in flower, but the foliage looked right. Turns out it's crown vetch (or purple crownvetch), Securigera varia, which is found in most states of the U.S. and is a problematic invasive in some of them. So why are we selling it, when it can be invasive, and when anybody could dig some up from along the side of the road if they really wanted some that badly? Bless me, I have no idea. I'll have to ask the boss, or somebody, if anybody actually buys it.
When I was a kid, I remember being told that this was an aster.
UPDATE: Well, it's an Erigeron of some kind, probably E. annuus, which is known to be in southeast Iowa and is a pure white. There are other Erigeron in Iowa that are supposed to be slightly pinkish, though I can't say I've ever seen anything like that. Thanks to Frances for the tip.
I like this plant. I see these particular specimens on my way to work every day, but the species seems to be common around Iowa City.
This was also one I saw on the way to work; the flower didn't last long, and turned into a dandelionish puff of seeds. I feel like I ought to know the name, like I did at one time or something, but I got nothing right now.
I took this picture because I think these are resprouts from disturbed ground: they're alongside of a house in a town near here (Wellman, maybe?) that has, for some reason, had all the ground around the foundation dug up. These appeared to be coming back from roots under the soil, or maybe the original plants were just covered up, not torn to pieces. Not sure how it works. All I know is, I've heard ostrich ferns were tough, and now I believe it.
This was a large wad of metal sitting in a field near West Chester. What is it from? Why is it just sitting there? Is this, perhaps, Art? We do not know. There was some brief discussion of how we might heave it into the car and take it home with us, or offer to buy it as scrap metal and then try to pawn it off to someone else as sculpture, but practical considerations prevailed. Also it's actually more interesting, attractive, and likely to give a person tetanus than a lot of art I've seen, which made the whole thing seem less workable.
If you know any of the NOID plants, or if you'd like to bid on the giant ball of twisted rusty metal (what a garden ornament it would make!), sing out in comments. Or, you know, keep it to yourself, if that's how you want to be.