BY DAVID P. DAVIS
Hot, wet weather is driving bloom production.
As we head into the late summer blooming season, the hot, wet weather is pushing plants to their genetic potential.
Right now, hibiscus and hydrangea blooms dominate the Yagle Garden while wildflowers charge along in the Butterfly Garden and throughout the 85 acres of the West Virginia Botanic Garden.
One native wildflower in full bloom currently is the cup plant, Silphium perfoliatum, a member of the aster family. This herbaceous perennial gets its name from the cup formed by opposite leaves clasping the square stem. The cup plants at the WVBG reach six to seven feet tall, with yellow clusters of small, sunflower-like blooms at their apex.
Cup plants reproduce by producing seeds as well as by vegetative, shallow rhizomes that form clones of plants. Some cup plant clones are known to be up to 50 years old as documented at botanic gardens, and I believe the colonies at the WVBG might reach back to the garden’s earlier days.
Cup plants are also being researched as potential biomass energy production because once established, it takes very little to nurture the plants and they produce huge amounts of organic matter per acre.
However, while native in much of the Eastern U.S., cup plants are considered invasive in some states.
Right now at the WVBG, the cup plant seems to be the favorite of our pollinator community.
The colonies that frame the walkway below the Yagle Garden are full of honey bees, bumble bees, and butterflies. As you walk between these clumps, take your time to observe not only the lovely yellow blooms but the variety of insect life taking in the nectar and pollen.
Come out and enjoy a walk at your WVBG and become a member today.
FOR INFORMATION, MAPS AND MORE, go to WVBG.org or visit at 1061 Tyrone Road in Morgantown.