It was a friend from Minnesota who found this jewel for me.
I THOUGHT I was well-acquainted with the wildflowers on (or near) my property but had definitely never seen anything like this yellow and orange beauty. (With that coloring it's easy to see where the name comes from.)
Here from June into October, it is common (theoretically) throughout the area. I don't know how I missed it ... well, I do for that summer there was only the one plant along the road as we returned from a long walk through the pastures and woods ringing my property.
It was definitely new to me - and spectacularly beautiful. I thought.
So what nasty named it "linaria vulgaris" or, as if that weren't bad enough, "Scrophulariaceae." (My spell check quickly objects. I don't blame it at all. And my dictionary is going to start wondering what I am loading into it!)
Then again the Peterson Field Guide groups it with the yellow lady-slipper and pale touch-me-not, both attractive flowers (with the latter being fun to play with) until, like here, it threatens to take over.
The B&E has an irregular (another one of those categories I have trouble with) cup-like flower, very much yellow, with the orange in the middle. All right. A fried egg surrounded in butter MIGHT look a little like that.
There are numerous flowers on one stem - my book says "in a raceme" if you want to get technical and calls the flowers spurred while Roger Tory thinks they're like snapdragons. See? It is a pretty little thing.
The Figwort Family claims it though somehow I'm thinking more of Harry Potter when I read that. It's mostly found along roadways, dry fields and waste places. With our lack of precipitation so far this year, it must be ready to take over!
Like many other wildflowers (except for those that aren't) it has skinny alternate leaves that are very long and numerous. Just to straighten out what exactly I'm saying, the flower can be about an inch long with the leaves an inch, plus or minus a half, on a plant that can grow to be one to three feet tall. It should be rather hard to miss, huh?
As I wrote above, finding the first was thanks to an observant friend. Since then, like many of my weedy wildflowers, it seems to have decided to come to stay. I found a couple in my small vegetable garden last year, probably growing with more enthusiasm (at least determination) than much of my lettuce and 'taters. I know I had hidden a greater variety of seeds beneath the dirt there (it is a small and very workable patch for me) but none of them put in an appearance and I expect no less this year.
Well, lettuce likes me - and something else has popped up in a reasonably straight row. I'll keep my eyes open. And the potatoes from last year have returned, probably saying they'd prefer by now a place on my plate.
I really won't mind if the Butter-and-eggs wants to come back again. It can have a smallish corner of my garden for it really is quite a lovely flower.
I found out later that it is considered invasive in Minnesota (aha!) and is most unwelcome in Alberta, New Mexico and Arizona. The easily-dispersed seeds can live for up to eight years and, believe it or not (why not?), it's another of those jewels that was introduced as an ornamental from the steppes of Europe and Asia. It can still be purchased as an ornamental.
Perhaps I'll find better ways to be reminded of a very good friend.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org