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July a good month to see flowers in Shawnee

Save our Shawnee Forest organization suggests that July is a good time to visit Shawnee State Forest to see flowers in the mint and sunflower families. Even though roadside mowing starts July 1, there will still be flowers on many unmowed road banks.

Monarda or Bee Balm, formerly common, can still be found scattered in small patches. It’s a butterfly favorite. Mountain mints, also butterfly favorites, will soon bloom.

Fleabane and Oxeye Daisy are two common white roadside flowers now. Yellow Black-eyed Susans are also common now. Whorled Rosinweed, related to Prairie Dock, is just beginning to flower.

Sunflowers will come later in the month. Early Goldenrod and two species of white aster are already in bloom. Other species will follow. Some asters and goldenrods will bloom until frost.

On Forest Road 1, just north of the unction with Forest Road 14, two eight foot stalks of Tall Blue Lettuce are growing at the pavement edge. The variety in this region has yellow flowers. A similar tall species, Florida Blue Lettuce, usually seen on Forest Road 2, will have blue flowers.

Black Cohosh, a medicinal plant for women’s health, began blooming the last week in June. It’s the only host plant for larva of the Appalachian Azure butterfly. Small greenish-white, slug-like caterpillars tended by ants can be observed eating on unopened flower buds.

Both orange (Butterfly weed) and Common Milkweed should bloom into July with maybe a few lingering Purple Milkweeds, which were very showy and widespread in small numbers this year.

Someone found one Wood Lily plant with two flowers to photograph on Forest Road 1. They left it as did many subsequent photographers. Many people, as well as nectaring butterflies, got to enjoy this one plant for several days.

July will bring a peak in the diversity of flowers in Shawnee Forest. Enjoy them while you can and leave them undisturbed for others.

Blackberries are ripening now and are fun to taste. Forest animals that eat berries to live will benefit from their natural food being left for them. People can go to the store for more, wild animals can’t.

Both animals and plants need saving in Shawnee State Forest.

BARBARA LUND

Lynx