Natural Highlights: Coreopsis


Take a stroll down the Wolf River Greenway at Epping Way and you can't miss the profusion of yellow wildflowers blooming along the sunny stretches of the trail.  Coreopsis or Tickseed is a genus of wildflowers in the huge Aster Family (Asteraceae) which includes daisies, sunflowers, asters, coneflowers, black-eyed susans and many others. Nearly all members of the Aster Family have dense heads (capitula) composed of multiple small disc flowers surrounded by "ray flowers" or bracts.  This family of plants is popular with butterflies and other pollinators because the flower heads provide a sturdy platform for nectaring, in addition to lots of food.  Apparently, the Coreopsis genus is considered to be important to honeybees.

Most Coreopsis species have toothed edges on their ray flowers and yellow is the predominant color, sometimes with a reddish internal halo.  At Epping Way, Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) is blooming in the newly seeded wildflower strip bordering the agricultural field. Plains Coreopsis is an annual wildflower often included in seed mixes for restoration projects because it serves as a nursery plant, providing protection for perennial wildflowers which are slower to establish.  Golden Tickseed or Coreopsis lanceolata is also common at Epping Way as well as in many other sunny, weedy places in our area, including the cobblestones along the Mississippi River.  It's tough and drought-resistant, able to handle a wide range of conditions.  There are about 45 North American species of Coreopsis, many of them popular with gardeners, though the relative utility of some new cultivars to pollinators is not yet known.  The most popular species in the Midsouth are probably Large-flowered Coreopsis (C. grandiflora), Threadleaf Coreopsis (C. verticillata), and Plains or Garden Coreopsis (C. tinctoria).  

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  photo by Collins Dillard

Posted by Cathy Justis at 11:47 AM