As I walked through a completely dry Bull Creek on October 6, I couldn’t help noticing how many fall flowers had sprung up there, some of them apparently drawing on residual moisture in the creek bed where water hadn’t flowed for months. In addition to the goldeneye I’ve already reported on, another native species I’ve found flourishing in the creek bed and in the adjacent woods is Conoclinium coelestinum, called blue mistflower, though it’s clear from the picture that the correct color is violet or purple rather than blue.
What I like in the conglomerate of flowers shown here is the many stages of blossoming that are present at the same time: buds barely born that are still a greenish-white; buds that have advanced to pale violet and then to a more saturated violet; buds that are beginning to open into flowers; flowers that are fully open and have taken on their “misty” look; and in the center, flowers that have gone well past their prime, have turned brown, and are already beginning to dry out.
Because this is a fall-flowering species, its flowers often appear above the fallen and drying leaves of nearby trees; such leaves account for the orange and brown at the bottom of this downward-looking picture.
For more information about Conoclinium coelestinum, including a zoomable map that shows the many places in the eastern United States where this wildflower grows, you can visit the USDA website.
© 2011 Steven Schwartzman