Flowers grown along the sides of roads add color and beauty to the area. While some are specifically planted by gardeners, others are wild and spread through seeds dispersed by wind, wildlife or through other means. Some flowers are non-edible while others are edible and enrich flavor of salads and savory dishes. Most roadside flowers make cheerful additions in the home garden.
Also called bee balm, Oswego tea (monarda didyma) is a herbaceous 3-foot tall perennial that features clusters of red or purple tubular flowers, fuzzy stems and plenty of leaves. The flower blooms from early to late summer. The arrangement of petals resembles a "swizzle stick" placed in iced tea or lemonade. The flower packs a zesty flavor and aroma when chopped up and added salads, or mixed with softened butter and served with muffins.
Hardy daylilies thrive in wet and dry areas, both in sunlight and partial shade. Belonging to the genus Hemerocallis, each daylily plant produces many blooms and buds in a small area. This rugged, low-maintenance, edible, summer-blooming perennial appear in a variety of colors, but the ones most commonly sighted along sides of roads is the common orange type. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, over 35,000 daylily varieties have been registered and marketed. Chop up petals of daylilies and add to salads or use as garnishing.
Queen Anne's Lace (Wild Carrot)
Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carots) was introduced from Europe until naturalized throughout the United States. It is now is commonly found growing near ditches or over dry fields and open areas along roads. It grows up to 4 feet tall and features clusters of tiny lacy white flowers, each with a deep purple center and 4- to 8-inch long, fern-like leaves. Queen Anne's lace blooms from May to October. The modern carrots were cultivated from the roots of the plant.
Maximilian or Perennial sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani) is a 10- to 12-foot-long flower of American origin that is commonly found growing along roadsides from Minnesota to Texas. Each flower features a mass or cluster of yellow 4-inch flowers that resemble sunflowers. These flowers grow best in sunny areas enriched with organic matter that determines the height. The plant produces flowers after two years, and is a good source of food for different types of birds and wildlife.
Sunny spots on roadsides house white and red clovers. These flowers grow up to 1-foot tall, feature three to five V-shaped leaves and a round flower head comprised of tiny purple-red or white flowers. These edible flowers are dried, ground and added to wheat flour when baking muffins or bread, or simply chopped up and added to fresh salad.
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Queen Anne's Lace
- "Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants"; Steve Brill; 1994
- Texas A&M extension: Maximilian Sunflower
- University of Minnesota Extension: Growing Daylilies
- National Gardening Association: Bee Balm
- Photo Credit on the roadside image by japonka from Fotolia.com
Perennials With Purple Flowers
Perennial plants are those that return year after year, often surviving winter in the ground. Many gardeners enjoy perennial flowers, since the...