The World Wide Web has many sources of information on wildflowers. Here's a sampling, based on a chapter from the book, The Internet Outdoor Family Fun Yellow Pages, published in the spring of 1999 by McGraw-Hill. The author also wrote The Secrets of Wildflowers, also published by McGraw-Hill.
One-fifth of the world's plants are threatened
with extinction. Learn about the problem and the some of the
species that are endangered. [Link thanks to Christina]
In 1931, A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Greve was published in England, and since then its fame has spread through the English-speaking world. Now, much of the text has been placed online, offering a wonderful reference to the uses to which plants have been put, and the folklore surrounding them.
Brother Alfred Brousseau, a member of the Catholic Christian Brothers order, was one of the United States’ leading math educators. He published 56 articles in journals of national circulation, spoke at dozens of mathematics conferences, and led sizable math societies. He also loved wildflowers. Over the last 30 years of his life, he took more than 20,000 color slides of some 2,000 species of native California wildflowers, all of which he diligently classified and recorded the date and place of photographing. Brother Alfred died in 1988, but his collection of slides, which now belong to the University of California at Berkeley, live on. More than 11,000 photos are online at the Brousseau California Flora Pictures site (along with some others that are being added). This collection is nothing short of magnificent, and anyone interested in western wildflowers should make a point of stopping by. The collection is searchable in several different and effective ways, or you can just browse.
The North American Native Plant Society, formerly the Canadian Wildflower Society, has become widely known for its magazine, Wildflower, which for a long time was North America’s only wildflower magazine and is still the biggest and most informative. Information about the society, the magazine, and wildflower organizations in general can be found at this site. The site also has a list of native plant societies in North America.
Get out those crayons! The National Park Service has an award-winning online "Celebrating Wildflowers Coloring Book," aimed at teaching children something of the wealth of wildflowers in North America. You call up an image and print it out on paper; or, the image can be downloaded to a computer where a paint program, such as Windows Paint, can be used to color the image. What’s more, if a child does a good job with the colors, the park service may post the picture online for all to see and admire. You don’t have to know each flower; the online book includes a printable coloring guide for each species. And if the online pictures aren’t enough, the park service offers a long list of old-fashioned paper coloring books, featuring botanical images, that you may find in stores.
Michael Charter extensive Glossary of Botanical Terms defines more than 1,000 words and phrases you may run across in your wildflower endeavors.
"Landscaping with native wildflowers and grasses improves the environment," notes the federal Environmental Protection Agency. "Native landscaping brings a taste of wilderness to urban, suburban, and corporate settings by attracting a variety of birds, butterflies and other animals. Once established, native plants do not need fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or watering, thus benefiting the environment and reducing maintenance costs. Gardeners and admirers enjoy the variety of colors, shapes, and seasonal beauty of these plants." This EPA site uses fine photos to demonstrate the kinds of terrain – forest, prairie, and wetland – that needs native plants. While the site is aimed at the Great Lakes basin, information here is useful for all families interested in the value of native plants to our environment.
The Bureau of Land Management warns that some of those pretty wildflowers we may enjoy can be pesky, troublesome, invasive species that, among other things, push out native species and alter environments. This site offers advice on how to deal with invasive weeds. Click the "more" button on the bottom of the page to get more information.
To see the "Weed Hall of Shame," picturing and describing some of the worst of the invasive weeds, visit:
The aim of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "educating people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants." To that end, the website includes a directory of gardens that display regional native plants; lists of native plant organizations; a calendar of native plant events around the United States, listed by region. Originally called the National Wildflower Research Center, the headquarters is in Austin, Texas, and the website has an online tour of the facilities and information on visiting.
Mr. Natural, a page on the site of wildlife photographer Gregg Pasterick, provides a good look at many Northeastern wildflower species. The photos are fine, and the information about them interesting and useful.
The New England Wild Flower Society, headquartered in Framingham, Mass., is the oldest plant conservation organization in the United States. Its website describes its activities and courses. The site also tells about the society’s Garden in the Woods, a "ever-changing living museum — New England's premier wildflower garden," which has more than 1,600 kinds of plants, with many rare and endangered native specimens throughout the gardens. The preserve includes the New England Garden of Rare and Endangered Plants. The site has lists of local chapters.
Professor Kenneth J. Stein of Virginia Polytechnic Institute established his Virtual Herbarium back when the Web was young – 1994 – and continues to maintain an excellent collection of photos and information on wildflowers generally found east of the Mississippi.
Wayne P. Armstrong is a college professor with both a sense of humor and a sense of awe at the world around him. He's put both together in Wayne's Word, "a newsletter of natural history trivia," which provides endless entertainment -- and useful information -- mostly about wildflowers, but also insects, spiders, and other creatures that move.
A lawn of perfectly maintained grass is boring. It’s also environmentally unsound, requiring fertilizers and chemicals to maintain and offering little payback for the environment. The Wild Ones, a Midwest-based organization, believes in "wild yards" – not messes of weedy plants, but carefully selected and planted native species that help preserve local species and enhance the environment by providing homes for native creatures. The Wild Ones movement is growing, particularly in prairie states. "We believe time will prove our landscaping methods popular for their economic and environmental benefits, but we are already proving, by example, that our landscapes are beautiful – naturally," says the organization. The site provides an online Wild Ones Handbook for creating your own natural yard -- a project that can easily involve the whole family. It’s an education for the kids as well as the parent in cooperating with nature instead of trying to subdue it.
The Wildflowers in Bloom Photo Album contained, at this writing, excellent pictures of about 80 of North America’s showiest wildflowers, along with information on each species and range maps. While the site is sponsored by Texas A&M University and Wildseed Farms, a Texas company, many of the species are found throughout North America. Some are not even Texan. In fact, some are not natives of North America to start with. The site also has growing information
This site’s goal "is to produce a sense of how Rocky Mountain flowers look in their native landscapes as well as to help people identify wildflowers when they visit the Rocky Mountains." Fred Vermeulen’s photography is enough to make you want to head for the hills, the big hills, and meet these wildflowers in person.
Gardenweb has several wildflower forums, including North American Native Plants, Tropicals, Woodlands, and Meadows & Prairies.
The newsgroup in which to ask wildflower questions is rec.gardens.
The Internet Directory for Botany has thousands of links on botanical subjects. Just its page on arboretums and botanical gardens around the world requires more than 7,500 words. The site is maintained by the Finnish Museum of Natural History, but all the pages are in English.
The Wildflowers of the Rockies site has many links to wildflower sites, including many just for kids.
Wildseed Farms is "the nation’s largest working wildflower farm." Its Reference Guide and Seed Catalog contains more than 70 species of wildflower seed, regional mixes, beautiful photos, and wildflower planting instructions. The site illustrates each species; click on a photo and an enlargement appears along with full information about the plant and planting instructions. Of course, you can order online. You can also snoop around the farm – Wildseed has photos of its spectacular fields of wildflowers.
Books for Wildflower Fans is one of the largest bibliographies of wildflower-related books on the Web. It lists books both in print and long out of print. In fact, most of the titles are out of print – no longer the problem it once was, thanks to the giant online used book databases like Bibliofind and Interloc (both of which are described here). For most of the book, the list also includes mini-critiques prepared by its author, Jack Sanders, who is also the author of this book.
Many of the books listed in Books for Wildflower Fans were consulted in the preparation of Jack Sanders’ book, Hedgemaids and Fairy Candles: The Lives and Lore of North American Wildflowers. Also published by McGraw-Hill (its Ragged Mountain Press imprint), the book describes the natural history, folklore, name origins, uses, and horticulture of hundreds of wildflowers. The book has a website with more information and sample chapters.