Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Flowers: Along the River

Honeysuckle at the confluence of the Grand and Speed Rivers

My favourite river trail is a 5 km loop (3 miles) and covers a variety of terrain, from swamp to limestone cliffs. Last week there were so many bushes blooming that it took me two hours to finish the trail due to the number of pictures I took. I met some interesting people who had little tidbits of information to pass along about birds, flora and fauna along the way.


When I downloaded my photos, it was time to open the guide books to positively identify what I had seen. Some things were easy to find, while other flowering shrubs were conspicuously absent from all the guides.


The large thorns of the Hawthorn provide safety for many smaller perching birds from predators and when I stand quietly near one, I am almost always rewarded with a closeup view of a bird. Both the Hawthorn and Chokecherry, which are native plants, provide fruit for the birds later in the season.

The most abundant flowering shrub was not to be found in any of my guide books. I went to the library and realized that these must be some ornamental species. At our local nursery, I discovered that the river bank had abundant growths of Bush Honeysuckle, some with white to orange flowers, and others with pink blooms. These shrubs were introduced from Asia and Europe and are widely used in ornamental plantings.

Bush Honeysuckle

They look lovely in bloom and produce fruit that is eaten by birds as well. Unfortunately, they have also become an invasive problem, the seeds being spread by birds. New plants tend to grow under the large trees from which the birds leave their droppings. Bush Honeysuckles have a broad tolerance to a number of habitats and their dense undergrowth shades out early spring herbaceous plants.

Morrow's Honeysuckle

Another abundant invader that I saw was Dame's Rocket. These pretty flowers look similar to Phlox, but can be identified by the four petals on each individual flower. Introduced from Europe in centuries past, they are considered a noxious weed in North America.

Dame's Rocket

When I visited the nursery to look at the ornamental shrubs, I realized that most of them were non-native plants. While some introduced flowering shrubs such as Lilac have not become an invasive problem, it is hard to predict those that might adapt and thrive in the future, competing for space with our native species.

Should imported trees, bushes and flowers be controlled? When people immigrate from other regions of the world they may wish to bring some plant that reminds them of home. One of my patients showed me plants she had grown from seeds she brought from her garden in Germany.

I enjoyed the colour of the Honeysuckle and Dame's Rocket along the river's edge. This bush had beautiful yellow blooms, and I have been unable to identify it yet.
Any ideas?

Unknown Flowering Shrub

P.S. On an unrelated topic....My daughter Becka did a post last night about a disease that has impacted our family very closely. Early testing is now available to determine the risk of siblings developing Type 1 diabetes.


  1. Anonymous5:20 am GMT-4

    Thank you for your lovely shrub flower shots! I kept meaning to take some this spring, and I got a few... many of the petals got blown off by a thunderstorm recently...

  2. I helped my Mom pick chokecherries and make chokecherry syrup years back. The syrup was the most beautiful color and if I close my eyes I can still taste the syrup on her pancakes.

  3. Hi Ruth,
    Thank you for your ID of the bush honeysuckle. I posted pictures of similar plants a few weeks ago, but didn't know what they were. I was thinking honeysuckle, but thought that was usually a viney plant. Now I know what they are! We also have the pink and light yellow colored blossoms, and yes, they were all in a concentrated area below large deciduous trees.

  4. Looks like I'll have to get a "flower guide". I rarely know the names of the wild flowers I photo.

    You saw a lot by the river and you chose the best flowers to show. I'd love to walk on a river trail every day!

    Becka reminded me I need to have my blood tested.

  5. I suspected the lovely flowers we were admiring this weekend weren't Phlox, but Dame's Rocket instead. Wouldn't you know they're considered noxious. Drats.

    Becka is so right. A little discomfort, but life-saving information.

  6. Dame's Rocket-I took a picture of those this morning and was going to ask for an i.d.-I think you solved my mystery-They seem to be pretty common, but they're not a bad looking flower.

  7. Jennifer- The blooms sure finish quickly, especially in the heat and rain.

    Lynne- I thought chokecherries were poisonous, but I was mistaken. I will have to see if I can find some at the market.

    RuthieJ- I didn't know what the flowers were when you posted a picture. It was hard to ID them. There is a honeysuckle vine and a honeysuckle bush.

    Mary- I find flower guides hard to use, especially if you have no idea what the flower is. These shrubs were not in the flower books, but in the tree books.

    Cathy- They are pretty, even if they are noxious. Whoever decided to bring them from Europe must have enjoyed them.

    Larry- There are so many Dame's Rockets right now. I have seen a number of people calling them phlox, but phlox flowers have 5 petals and bloom later in the season.


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