Blue Flowers of Little River Canyon National Preserve

Jacksonville State University's Little River Canyon Center

This exhibit provides a sample of the more attractive blue flowering plants that have been recorded on Little River Canyon National Preserve. A more complete display of all flowering plants photographed for the Preserve is provided in the complete exhibit of "Plants of Little River Canyon National Preserve".

Purple Foxglove produces purple flowers that appear from August to October. The plant is often found growing in open moist places, wetland margins and barrens. Foxglove is parasitic on the roots of native grasses.

Wideleaf Blue-stars produce pale blue flowers that appear during April. They are often found growing on bluffs, woodlands and along streambanks. This poisonous plant contains a milk sap that appears when the stem is broken

Common Clasping Aster produces blue flowers that appear from August to November. They are widespread across forests and dry, open lands in the region. The ancient Greeks used asters as an antidote for snakebites. Shakers used asters in a paste to improve their complexion.

Woodmint produces a purple flower that appears from May to July. It can be found growing in meadows, dry woods and forest openings. It was traditionally used by the Cherokee to make a poultice to treat headaches.

Tall Bellflower produces a blue flower that appears from June to September. The plant is frequently found growing in moist woodlands and along streambanks, Tall Bellflower was used by Native Americans to make tea for treating coughs and tuberculosis.

Nodding Thistle produces purplish flowers that appear from May to November. This invasive, non-native weed is found along roadsides, pastures and waste lands. Each plant produces thousands of seeds that can result in the formation of impenetrable thistle thickets.

Spurred Butterfly Pea is a climbing or trailing vine that produces lavender flowers from June to August. The vine is found growing in woodlands, sandy soils and disturbed lands. The flowers are pollinated by bees, and the plant contributes to nitrogen fixation in the soil

Spring Coralroot is an orchid that produces flowers appearing in April and May. This orchid can be found growing in moist woods, rich ravines and slopes, swamps and along stream margins. Coralroot is considered a saprophyte that obtains nutrients indirectly from decaying organic material in the soil.

Soapwort Gentian produces bright blue flowers that appear from September to November. The plant grows in wet meadows, roadsides and along streambanks. Bumblebees pollinating this plant often resort to chewing a hole through the flower side in pursuit of nectar. Many beverages are made from gentian root.

Common Bluet produces a sky blue flower that appears from April to July. They are commonly found growing in open deciduous forests, meadows and grassy lands. The Cherokee made a tea from the leaves to prevent bed-wetting.

Tiny Bluet produces a blue flower with reddish eye that flowers during March and April. They are often found growing in dry fields, meadows and open woods. Bluets are pollinated butterflies and several species of bees.

Common Morning Glory is a non-native annual vine that produces white, blue, pink or purple flowers from July to September. It is found as an escape in disturbed areas, along fencerows, fields and other waste lands. The vine is native to tropical America and introduced into Britain in the 1600s.

Upland Dwarf Iris produces a lavender flower that appears in April and May. This small iris is usually found growing in sandy or rocky soils, open woodlands, and mesic to dry woods.

Red Dead Nettle produces pinkish purple flowers that appear from March to October. This non-native invasive weed can be found growing in open areas, fields, lawns and waste places. The tops and leaves of young plants are used to make salads, or in stirfry as a spring vegetable.

Common Toadflax produces blue to lavender flowers that appear from March to July. They are often found growing along roadsides, fields and on thin soils over rock outcrops.The name toadflax comes from the appearance of a toad opening its' mouth when the flower is squeezed in a certain way.

Nuttall's Lobelia produces delicate pale blue flowers from May to November. It is usually found growing in wet, sandy, acidic soils, such as flatwoods and bogs. Historically, lobelia has been used to treat respiratory and muscle disorders, and as a purgative.

Chinaberry is a non-native, invasive tree that produces lavender flowers that appear during April and May. The are found in a wide range of habitats, particularly along roadsides and disturbed lands. The fruits of Chinaberry are poisonous to humans when eaten. The leaves have been used as a natural insecticide to keep with stored food.

Bluebottle is a non-native plant that flowers during April and May. They are often found growing in abandoned lawn and waste places. Bluebottle has a musky smell that resembles a bunch of grapes

Maypop is a climbing or trailing vine that flowers during May and April. This vine is usually found growing in fields, thickets, roadsides and open woods. A wide variety of butterflies pollinate this flower. Historically, Maypop was used in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Self-heal is a non-native plant that produces purplish flowers from April to December. This plant is widespread across disturbed soils. As the name Self-heal suggests, this plant has a long history of medicinal uses. Tea made from the leaves has been used to treat sore throat, mouth sores, fevers and diarrhea. Externally, it has been used to treat wounds, bruises, sores and ulcers. Self-heal contains antibiotic, anti-tumor and hypertensive compounds.

Carolina Wild Petunia produces violet flowers from May to July. The plant can be found growing in both moist and dry woodlands. The leaves of this plant provide food for caterpillars of both butterflies and moths

Blue Sage produces blue flowers that appear from August to October. This plant is found along roadsides, glades, fields and pastures. Sage has a rather unique flower structure involving only two stamens, which can lead to formation of new species from isolation of the parental population.

Lyreleaf Sage produces pale blue flowers that appear during April and May. They can be found growing in dry open woods, clearings, sandy meadows and fields. Lyreleaf Sage was made into a salve that was considered a cure for warts and cancer. The leaves and seeds were made into an ointment used to cure wounds and sores.

Hyssopleaf Skullcap produces blue flowers that appear from May to July. This plant is usually found growing in fields, barrens, and open woods. A tea made from this plant was used as a sedative, nerve tonic and antispasmodic for nervous conditions such as anxiety, epilepsy and insomnia.

Cranefly Orchid produces a purplish green flower that appears from July to September. This orchid can be found growing in uplands and rich, damp, acidic woodlands. It is the only species of Tipularia found in North America. The roots are connected to a series of edible, potato-like corms.

Common Blue Curls produces blue flowers that appear from August to November. They can be found growing in open, dry, soils of fields, cliffs, glades and barrens. On the Preserve, Blue Curls is restricted to the sandstone outcrop rare community type.

Venus Looking Glass produces blue flowers that appear from April to June. They are often found growing in open woods, fields and roadsides. The flowers are pollinated by a variety of bees and butterflies.

Narrowleaf Vervain produces pale lavender flowers that appear from May to September. This plant can be found growing in dry fields and roadsides. Verbena has longstanding use in herbalism and folk medicine. Historic fables credit vervain with magic suppression powers against witches.

Tennessee Ironweed produces purple flowers that appear from June to September. The plant is commonly found growing in upland woodlands. Native Americans used the leaves and roots to make a tea that was used during pregnancy and childbirth, and to relieve postpartum pain

Bird's Eye Speedwell produces blue flowers that appear from March to October. This non-native plant is often found growing in moist waste areas, lawns, and abandoned gardens and walkways. The flowers of speedwell attract small bees and various flies.

Common Vetch produces rose to purple flowers that appear from March to June. This non-native plant is found growing along roadsides and fields. Common Vetch has been part of the human diet since prehistoric times. The remains of this plant has been found in Neolithic sites, ancient Egypt and Bronze Age excavations.

Greater Perwinkle produces lavender blue flowers that appear from February to May. This non-native plant occurs as an escape from cultivation or persistent on old house sites. Herbal remedies used this plant to treat stomach ailments, stop nose bleeds and heal certain wounds.

Bird's Foot Violet produces a blue violet flower that appears from March to May. This violet prefers open, sandy soils. The Cherokee soaked the seeds of corn in a solution made from violet roots to repel insects.

Credits: Story

Constructed, written and photography by Bill Garland, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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