Michigan Backyard Paradise

Canada Goldenrod

Canada Goldenrod Solidago Candensis

Native to North America, it grows abundantly on roadsides and meadows spreading by rhizomes. It blooms from mid summer to fall. Any stem swellings on the plant are from gall wasp larvae in the stem.

Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flower Lobelia Cardinalis

Native throughout the U.S., this flower is widely cultivated in many gardens because it attracts hummingbirds. Although it is a perennial, it is not a long-lived one. It grows from 7-10 years and then dies. Smaller plants will often branch off from the older one and can be separated.

Native Americans used cardinal flower roots to make a medicinal tea for intestinal ailments and syphilis. It was also used for bronchial problems and colds.

Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle Cirsium Arvense

Canada thistle is a perennial that originated in South East Europe and Asia and very likely was brought over by early settlers in the grains that were brought over. It has now naturalized much of the U.S. and considered a noxious weed by 35 states. Cattle do not like to graze in pastures where it is growing. Because it spreads by rhizomes, plowing a field can often make worse causing a single plant to multiply.

The flowers on the plants come in male and female genders making them dioecious. To produce seed, they need to cross-pollinate.


Catnip Nepeta cataria

This herb gives many cats a feeling of euphoria. People can drink tea made from the leaves and get a feeling of relaxation from it. It is native to Europe and Asia and was brought over. It is now naturalized throughout the U.S.


Chickory Cichorium Intybus

Native to North Africa, Western Asia and Europe it is now naturalized in the U.S. Cultivated forms of this is used as an additive to coffee.


Chickweed Stellaria Media

Native to Europe, this plant has a wide distribution throughout North America. It had medicinal purposes, used topically for many skin conditions such as diaper rash, eczema, burns and insect bites.


Columbine Aquilegia Canadensis

Columbine is a native flower found in the wild but also widely cultivated. It is very easy to grow and spreads by seed. Humming birds enjoy this flower.

Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed Asclepias Syriaca

Common Milkweed is a perennial native to Michigan and much of the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. It loves to grow in sandy, well-drained soil and spreads profusely by rhizomes. Some consider it a weed because it can be very invasive. It is found in great abundance along the freeways.

Common Milkweed plays host to many kinds of insects. One, which is notable, is the Monarch butterfly. The larva will eat the leaves of this plant from which it will obtain a toxic substance, which as an adult renders it toxic to birds. The pink blooms on this plant come out between July and August. The flower buds are said to be great for eating before opening and can be cooked like broccoli with butter. Once it is done blooming the pods split open revealing seeds with a silky hair. That “silk” has been used to stuff pillows and during WWII was used for kapok in life preservers.

Common Mullen

Common Mullen Verbascum Thapsus

This biannual starts in it’s first year looking like a small blue fuzzy rosette and then shoots up to 4-6 feet the following year. Drought is not a problem, as it’s tap root can grow very deep. When the plant finishes blooming in mid to late summer, the seeds will start new plants.

Common Mullen is native to Europe, Africa and North Asia and was brought here by the early settlers who used the plant for asthma, bronchitis and chest colds.

common plantain

Common Plantain Plantago Major

Native to England, here it’s considered an invasive weed. Young leaves can be boiled or eaten raw.

culivers root plant

Common Purslane Portulaca Oleracea

Common purslane grows throughout the world and is used by many as a source of food and contains Omega-3 fatty acids and lots of vitamins. It also has a long history of medicinal usage in India, China and Greece. In this country, it’s considered a weed.

common teasel

Common Teasel Dipsacus Fullonum

Native to Eurasia and North Africa, this tap-rooted biannual is an introduction. The name Teasel comes from the use of their spiky flower heads to 'teas' out the fibers in woollen cloth, prior to spinning (from the Old English teasan, meaning to tease). Many states have Common Teasel listed as a noxious weed.

crab grass

Crab Grass Digitaria Ischaemum

Crabgrass, originating from Asia, is a common weed found in lawns and disturbed areas. This is the most common of the two varieties that grow in Michigan.

creeping charlie

Creeping Charley Glechoma Hederacea

This was a plant brought from Europe by the early settlers as a ground cover, which quickly became a weed. It is in the mint family and has the smell of mint when it gets mowed. In a manner similar to ivy it spreads by rhizomes.


Crownvetch Securigera Varia

Some sources list this Eurasion plant from the legume family as being introduced in the late 1800s to early 1900s as a cover crop, while others say that is was developed and introduced for erosion control in the 1950s. Judging by how prolific Crownvetch grows when it naturalizes, it is likely here to stay. Crownvetch can be found throughout much of North America and many states have listed it as a noxious weed.

culivers root plant

Culivers Root Veronicastrum Virginicum

Culivers root is native from British Columbia south to Alabama, Missouri & Nebraska. Blooms for this start mid-July.

curly dock

Curly Dock Rumex Crispus

Curly Dock is native to Europe and Asia naturalized in the U.S. is in the buckwheat family. It has been used for medicine since 500 B.C. for various health problems such as iron-deficiency, anemia, for blood purifying and as a liver decongestant among others. The leaves and the seeds are edible and are comparable in nutrition to the vegetables bought in the store.

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