Visit the Wistendahl Native Plant Garden

We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Jean Wistendahl, botanist and curator of Ohio University’s Bartley Herbarium. Jean, along with her late husband, Dr. Warren Wistendahl, devoted most of their lives to identifying, saving and cultivating native flora.

To honor the Wistendahl’s passion and commitment to Ohio’s native plants and trees, the Wistendahl Native Plant Garden was created in 2014 and is located just next to our office at 667 E. State Street in Athens. The garden also serves as a gateway of discovery for the native plants, trees shrubs, vines and grasses of this region.

Perhaps in honor of Ms. Wistendahl, the garden is putting on an especially spectacular show of blooms this year. Visit the garden to learn about Ohio’s native flora, and then practice your identification skills on the trails of Athens County.

We’ve identified a sampling of some common and not-so-common Ohio native plants that happen to be in bloom right now:

Silene regia (royal catchfly)

Silene regia (Royal Catchfly)

Silene regia. In addition to being the logo of the native plant garden, its showy red flowers and abundance throughout the state make it an easy native plant to identify. Commonly found in Ohio’s prairies, this striking plant attracts the ruby-throated hummingbird and the swallowtail butterfly.

Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed)

Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed)

Eupatorium maculatum. Thought to be a medicinal plant, this tall prairie plant is usually found in open meadows and is a favorite of various types of butterflies.

Helianthus mollis (Downy Sunflower)

Helianthus mollis (Downy Sunflower)

Helianthus mollis. A member of the Sunflower family, finches feed on Helianthus mollis’ seeds in late summer. This prairie plant has been designated as threatened in Ohio because of the loss of habitat from agriculture and development.

Asclepias incarnate(Swamp Milkweed)

Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)

Asclepias incarnata. Without this and other forms of milkweed, we wouldn’t have monarch butterflies. The butterfly feeds on the flowers and lays its eggs on the plant. Later, the emerging caterpillar feeds on the leaves. Look for Asclepia incarnata in wetlands.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Asclepias tuberosa. Another host plant for the monarch butterfly, you may notice this type of milkweed along roadsides and in open fields.

Matalea obliqua (Climbing Milkvine)

Matalea obliqua (Climbing Milkvine)

Matalea obliqua. A member of the milkweed family, this rare vine is found in wooded areas.

These natural beauties are worth seeing in person. Get to know them well, then head to these favorite places of Ohio’s native flora:

Special thanks to the volunteers of the Athens Garden Club and the Athens Master Gardeners who lovingly manage the Wistendahl Garden, and to the volunteers of Project Plant, whose landscaping at the front of our office makes our building shine.

Ready to visit the Wistendahl Native Plant Garden? Let us help you plan your trip!

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