During our camping trip last month to Lake Sherando we had time to explore the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway. Today the area is heavily forested, but at the turn of the last century most of the mountains were denuded of trees and being used for pastureland and apple orchards. There are still a few remnants maintained as meadows, and one of those is the Big Spy Mountain Overlook. It's a place I usually stop, not so much for the view, but for a chance to wonder through the small meadow. On this trip I found it full of wildflowers, and the place was abuzz with insect activity. It was also abuzz with people activity. A caravan had pulled up just before we got there, and the occupants found themselves suddenly able to receive signals for their smart phones after seemingly going sometime without. It was comical watching husbands, wives and children all checking email, calling contacts and texting. They acted like sailors, marooned on some desolate coast, boarding the rescue ship.
Anyway, when it comes to wildflowers, I usually have to do a little research to get a definite species name on a few. While I was in this process for the plants below I was baffled that I could not find two of them listed in any native plant references. Expanding my search I found the unknowns listed as invasives of European origin. Judging from their numbers at the overlook, they are very happy in their new home and seem to get along with the older neighbors, at least at this point.
Centaurea maculosa (Spotted Knapweed, non-native)
Centaurea maculosa and Daucus carota (Queen Anne's Lace, non-native)
Tragopogon dubius (Western Salsify, non-native)
Monarda fistulosa (Beebalm, native)
Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed, native)
Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-eyed Susan, native)
Hopefully if I have missed an ID, someone out there will let me know.