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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - January 16, 2008

From: Milford, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: The most common wildflower in North America
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smartyplants, What the most common wildflower in North America? My friend thinks it's the oxeye daisy. Is this correct? I work for a puzzle publishing company, and am doing research for a themed puzzle. The puzzle is about wildflowers. Hope you can help! Debra in Milford, CT

ANSWER:

The answer depends on how you define the terms, "common" and "wildflower." Many of the most "common wildflowers"—that is, species commonly called wildflowers and occurring in all 48 contiguous states—are of Old World origin. Many are also considered weeds. Among them are Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Bachelor's buttons (Centaurea cyanus), Queen Anne's-lace (Daucus carota), Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) that all came from Europe or Asia.

Native candidates that occur in all the "lower 48 states" (though all are not native to every state) are Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Carolina Crane's-bill (Geranium carolinianum), and Sleepy catchfly (Silene antirrhina).

For our money, however, the two most common wildflowers (herbaceous native plants with showy flowers) are Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Both occur all across America and in many places occur in vast numbers.

Good luck with your puzzle and we hope it includes lots of native wildflowers.


Achillea millefolium

Geranium carolinianum

Silene antirrhina

Rudbeckia hirta

Helianthus annuus

 

 

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