Rhode Island is the next alphabetical state on our virtual wildflower tour and the official state wildflower is the Violet – again! Four states share the Violet and I need to find a different twist on wildflowers and Rhode Island. Everyone knows this is the smallest state. Why not look at the smallest flowers? We tend to overlook small things and when we stop and look closely at little wildflowers, we might find some hidden gems. let’s start with one of my favorites which blooms every Spring in Rhode Island and up and down the Appalachians. It is the Miterwort. The name comes from a bishop’s hat called a miter as the blossom supposedly resembles that religious artifact and since Rhode Island was founded on religious freedom principles, we have a connection!
Another very common summer wildflower is the Queen Anne’s Lace which emigrated from Europe and now blankets every field and vacant lot in the US. It is also known as the Wild Carrot and I have read that cultivated carrots were actually derived from this plant. Just pull up a white root and smell it and you will notice the definite carrot smell. Look closely at the individual flowers. They are tiny!
Have you ever looked closely at any member of the Daisy family? In the center are the actual flowers almost immeasurably small. We see the showy outer petals but the real flower with enticing nectar is actually in the middle. The petals attract and direct pollinators to the true source of food and nourishment.
Remember we are visiting Rhode Island and its official wildflower – the violet – which is huge compared to the Lilliputian examples cited above. Can we find a small violet to represent our smallest state?