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Wellesley’s Plants of Summer

Columnist Deb Robi writes about Wellesley’s lush summertime flora.

Someone recently called the Queen Anne's Lace, also known as "Wild Carrot" in the park in my neighborhood "the herald of the height of summer." It's an accurate description of this unappreciated wildflower.

I love seeing this flower that grows often along the side of a road. It's so named because it resembles the lace of a dress and reminds me of childhood and lazy days of summer, when the very same wildflower was abundant. It truly is an indicator that we are in the midst of a glorious summer in Wellesley.

While I enjoy the garden delights in my own backyard, it is a special treat to take a closer look at what flowers grow wild in our midst. Think of it as a surprise gift from Mother Nature every year .

Also spotted growing wild in Centennial Reservation: pale purple Chicory, Black-eyed Susans and Coneflower, which also goes by its other name: the herb Echinacea. The Chicory is often used to roast coffee in the South.

If you are one of the lucky people to enjoy a quieter, slower pace of life in town in the summer, then pay special attention to the day lilies and other wild flowers peeking out from everywhere. That's not to mention the lowly dandelion. Our park is filled with them. Dandelions don't seem to get any respect. As someone recently reminded me, chefs have been known to use dandelions to dress up a salad!

If you are curious about the wildflowers growing in your yard or neighborhood, the web has some wonderful resources. You can even post a photo to this Facebook page, to try to learn the name and origin of your wildflower:

While my neighbors and I are enjoying the blooming wildflowers whenever we visit the park, we are also leery about the usual summer 'poisons' that visit us, often in our yards and gardens.

Fellow park users and dog-walkers have spotted a weed known as "Stinging Nettle." The wild plant has tiny spines that sting, injecting histamine and formic acid, which causes a painful reaction in humans. And don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for Poison Ivy, the shrub with it's three leaves growing together. Ivy of the poison variety is less easy to identify when it grows as a climbing or trailing vine. Remember the camper's lament about the dreaded ivy: "leaves of three, let it be!"

Wellesley's Park & Highway Division has a list of invasive and particularly undesirable plants growing throughout our town, on its website: You might recognize some of the plants as invasive and annoying plants you've dealt with on your own property. .  

While Park & Highway employees are charged with maintaining our roads and streets, summer brings particular challenges to care for the Town's park and conservation land. Oh, and don't forget about keeping the athletic fields and other recreation areas spiffed up. During these dog days of summer the town even harvests the weeds in Morses Pond!

So if things seem a bit overgrown where you are, that might explain it. It is a lot of upkeep during these pleasing summer months.

Tell us in the comments about the

Sister Teresa Conner August 29, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Although Stinging Nettles does sting, it is a valuable plant both as a vitamin-mineral packed food and for medicinal purposes. Sister Teresa Conner

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