Cape Cod is a peninsula loaded with native wildflowers that grow and thrive in the fields, dunes, and marshland areas. The mayflower is, of course, most closely associated with Cape Cod and is usually one of the first flowers to make an appearance in the summer. As the summer wears on, other flowers appear at different times to cover the Cape in blooms. The month of August brings some exceptionally beautiful, and somewhat endangered, plants to bloom on Cape Cod.
The cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, thrives wherever there is moisture, and Cape Cod is its favorite place. Cardinal flowers are wildflowers, and you will see them in bloom in midsummer around bogs and in thickets on stream banks. You can’t miss them: they’re the ones with the 3-foot tall spikes of flaming red flowers, usually being visited by a hummingbird.
Nodding Ladies' Tresses
Spiranthus ceruna is a wildflower that belongs to the orchid genus. This hairy little plant blooms on the Cape from August through October, on stalks 4 to 12 inches. Ladies’ tresses can be found growing wild around bogs, most notably Shank Painter Bog. This plant is a State of Massachusetts rare plant, so if you see them growing wild, don’t pick them.
As summer winds down and all the other wildflowers seem to be dying back, fields all over the Cape come alive with the blooms of the stiff aster, also known as the frost aster. Unlike other native plants on the Cape, the numbers of stiff aster have actually increased over the last century. Stiff aster prefers a bit drier soil than other plants native to the area, so look for them in fields and meadows.