Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Giant in the Backyard

There are a number of very tall wildflowers that thrive in sunny, wet ground. Cutleaf coneflower can grow to ten feet. Joe-pye-weed, late-flowering thoroughwort and native sunflowers can reach impressive heights in late summer. But one plant is already towering over me in the backyard.

In the photo is the growing tip of Tall Meadow Rue (Thalictrum pubescens), which, growing at the rate of 2 inches a day this spring, has now reached a height of seven feet, with no sign of stopping.

Tall meadow rue plays a role that is complementary to the boneset described in detail last July. Both grow into vegetative high-rises topped by masses of white flowers that attract a surprising diversity of insect life, with meadow rue doing its work early in the season, and boneset reaching maturity in mid-summer.

Even before flowering, the meadow rue is serving as substrate for the life cycles of the local insect community.

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