Wildflower walks held at Hills Creek

Learn about different flowers and their purposes as a part of nature programs


by Rebecca Hazen - July 13, 2016

Visitors to Hills Creek State Park can learn about the different native wildflowers that grow in this area of Pennsylvania by joining a wildflower walk lead by a state park employee.

Summer intern Emily Shosh lead a group of interested people on a mile walk around the park and pointed out different flowers and plants, and gave interesting facts about them.

Wildflower Walk label

One plant that everyone will probably recognize is the white oxeye daisy. But did you know that the whole plant is edible? “The leaves are really good. It tastes like a vegetable to me,” Shosh said.

Along the walk there was also a lot of crown vetch to be seen, which is an invasive wildflower. “It is a good pollinator flower, but you don’t want to see too much of it,” Shosh said.

Wildflower Walk label 2

Another plant found within the park is yarrow, which is a medicinal plant. It can be used for restricting the flow of blood from wounds. It’s scientific name is Achillea millefolium, and it was named after the Greek hero, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds.

Shosh also pointed out the touch-me-not plant. If you happen to accidentally step on stinging nettle or bush against it, the touch me not can be used to help with the sting. You can tell it is a touch-me-not by the almost translucent stems. Shosh has only seen the orange variety in Hills Creek State Park, but it does come in yellow and pink colors too.

Wildflower Walk label 5

There was a lot of milkweed growing along the side of the trail. “Butterflies love milkweed. The milkweed system is more complicated than the orchid. Bees will actually get trapped in them trying to pollinate them. Caterpillars will lay their eggs on the velvety bottom of the leaves,” Shosh said.

Wildflower Walk label 9

Buttercup, a little yellow flower, is not toxic, but it is poisonous to live stock. So if you have horses and cows, and if they get into buttercup, they will develop blisters all over their mouths. Wood sorrel looks similar to buttercup. The flowers will go to a pod that looks like the shape of a banana. It is edible and it kind of tastes like lemon.

Wildflower Walk label 11

Shosh learns about the different wildflowers as she goes. During this particular walk, she often consulted her wildflower guide book (she recommends using Peterson’s Field Guides brand).

Wildflower Walk label 8

State park rules state that you are allowed to pick edibles for yourself, but do not uproot anything, because it disrupts the pollination.

Wildflower Walk label 10

Other flowers and plants that were seen on the walk include spring beauty, birdsfoot trefoil, wild parsnip, aster and forget me nots.

Wildflower Walk label 7

To see a list of nature related events happening at Hills Creek State Park, check out their calendar here!.

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