Using Wildflowers in Arrangements: Variety Vs Cultivar

I love the wild or uncultivated varieties of flowers I find as I walk through the woods and fields.

Nature has blessed the woodlands, countryside, wastelands and even the desert with a host of beautiful wildflowers. In the world of botany, all plants have names with at least two parts, genus, and species. Some plants also have a cultivar or variety name. 

A variety is found in nature. A cultivar is a variety of plant that exists because of interventions by humans.  A hybrid is a cultivar that is a cross between two varieties. Some say the intervention could mean something as simple as collecting seeds. If that is true then do  the “wildflower” seeds we buy in packets from wildflowers become our cultivars?

The dictionary definition is that a wildflower is the flower of a plant that grows without cultivation. 

Rubbeckia laciniata

Just like cultivars, many of these wildflowers are seasonal. For example, goldenrod graces the meadows only in the fall, while ox-eye daisies are pretty much gone by the end of summer. 

Identifying Wildflowers

Wildflowers are often hard often hard to identify. They will have two names. The first names the genus and the second is the species. Genus is capitalized and the species is not. Think of Genus as like a surname. The species is a given name without the capital. They also have a nickname. 

If you want to identify your wildflowers it’s best to narrow it down to the state and the part of the state,  such as Central Wisconsin, or Northern Florida. But most people just enjoy them and leave the names to the botanists.

Throughout the growing season, I love to pair the wildflowers I find with cultivars or hybrids. Here are some of the arrangements I have enjoyed. 


Day Lilies with Assorted Wildflowers

The day lily cultivars are paired with Lathyrus latifolius, nicknamed Sweet Pea (purple), Coreopsis pubescens, nickname Star Tickweed (yellow)  and Daucus carota or Queen Anne’s Lace (white)


Gladiolus with Assorted Wildflowers

The Queen Anne’s lace was still around when these gorgeous gladiolus were blooming. Also, in the arrangement is Asclepias or Orange Milkweed, Yellow Leaf Cup or Bear’s Foot (yellow) and Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, or Oxeye Daisy.


Lovely Rose of Sharon with Assorted Wildflowers

As the Goldenrod comes in, some of the Queen Anne’s lace begins to fold up. They will be pretty  later on in dried arrangements. These along with some tiny purple fill-in flowers go well with Rose of Sharon blossoms. There are many varieties of Goldenrod.  This is Solidago canadenis, or Early Goldenrod. The tiny purple fill in flowers may be Verbesina alternifolia, or Ironweed. 


 Chrysanthemums paired with Goldenrod

Different cultivars of colorful mums both large and small with Goldenrod are beautiful arrangements in the fall. This is Late Goldenrod, or Solidago Altessima.

So, we can say that wild flowers are wildflowers!


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