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Crested Iris
This crested Iris was found at Logoly State Park in McNeil, Arkansas.

Wildflowers are beautiful with their brilliant colors for everyone to see and enjoy. Many wildflowers have spread from their native environment to similar environments in other parts of the world. Wildflowers grow in many kinds of soil. They can be found in cold regions and tropical regions, and from swamps to deserts. Most wildflowers  are appreciated for their beauty, but some, like the dandelion, are considered weeds. Some are used to make perfume, while others are used in the making of medicine.   Wildflowers are not considered a major food source, but some petals are edible. Be careful because some wildflowers are poisonous.  Wildflowers usually grow from seeds,  but some varieties grow from bulbs.  In the United States, there are tens of thousands of species of wildflowers.

There are numerous ways wildflowers are moved from one locale to another. People transplant the flowers to their own garden, seeds are blown miles by the wind and the rain, and animals help in their own way. Animals transport seeds when they partake of the sweet nectar of the blossom. The seeds stick to the legs of the bees, moths, butterflies, honeybees, beetles, and birds that feast at the blossom.

Pollinating insects are attracted to certain flowers because of the color or the odor of the wildflower. Some moths and bats feast on the nectar of their favorite blossom at night because it is not necessary for them to see the plant in order to eat. They smell the plant and know where to find their meal.

All plants are divided into two large groups know as dicot and monocot.   Dicot  seeds have two tiny leaves called cotyledons. Parts grow in fours or fives or in multiples of four or five and the veins in leaves are branched rather than parallel.  Monocot  seeds have only one cotyledon. Petals and other flower parts of most monocots grow in threes or in multiples of three, and the veins in their leaves are parallel to one another.

Growth of the wildflowers depends on how much light they receive. In early spring,  wildflowers can be found in forests until the trees begin to put on their leaves. At this time,  wildflowers bloom mostly in clearings where sunlight is plentiful. Wildflowers can be found in fields, on the side of the road, in some city parks, in state parks, around some schools, and in your own yard at home.

There are laws that prohibit picking wildflowers in national parks, state parks, public parks and forests. Laws help preserve endangered species and also help preserve the blossoms so others can enjoy their beauty. One rule of thumb to follow is to never uproot a wildflower.   If there are  few wildflowers of a certain species in the area, leave them alone. It is permissible to pick wildflowers only if there are numerous flowers of that species in the area.  Then you should cut the stem with a knife or scissors. If flowers are picked, they may be preserved by pressing in a book to dry then mounting them in a picture frame. The wildflowers can be hung upside down by the stem to dry then used in a flower arrangement.

Wild Azaleas
Wild Azaleas

Project Author: Paula Metcalf

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