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An Ogemaw County Year: Tickseed

This post is part of a project in the works; "An Ogemaw County Year".  The blog and eventually the book will encompass nature noticing, research and facts over the course of a year with a watercolor painting for each entry. Originals and prints will be available via the website as they are completed and prepped and the book will be available upon completion.


It all began with a gift from a family member of 2 lanceleaf coreopsis plugs from native plant nursery in Michigan. I didn’t know what they were when I got them but I brought them home with a couple of other plants she gifted me and I found a spot on a sandy bank in my yard where nothing else seemed to grow. The area had been a constant source of frustration, with its sandy, well-drained soil and constant exposure to the sun. In fact roadside 4x4s and dirtbikes often took the barren hillside along the road as an invitation to erode the soil further. 

After planting the Lanceleaf Tickseed, I watched as they stayed green all summer in the sand.  They never flowered that first year and I forgot about them until they came back the second year. They did flower the second year and along with blazing star and grey coneflower, have adapted remarkably well to their new home. Each July and August I collect seeds from the tickseed, which indeed do look like ticks, and then start them indoors each spring and plant them out each year. The collection is steadily growing and I love seeing that once barren hillside light up with the cheery yellow flowers each year. 

Lanceleaf Tickseed is a perennial plant, meaning it lives for more than one year. Its life cycle begins in the early spring when new shoots emerge from the soil. By late spring to early summer, the plant reaches its peak blooming period, displaying bright yellow, daisy-like flowers that can last until mid-summer.

The flowers of Lanceleaf Tickseed are not just visually appealing; they are also crucial for pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and other insects are attracted to the vibrant blooms, feeding on the nectar and pollen. This pollination process is vital for the reproduction of the plant. After pollination, the flowers produce seeds that mature and are ready for harvest by late summer.  I always take a few to plant for the following year.

As the blooming season ends, the plant enters a period of dormancy. The above-ground parts may die back, but the roots remain alive, storing energy for the next growing season. This cycle repeats year after year, with the plant growing stronger and more robust with each passing season.

Lanceleaf Tickseed plays a significant role in supporting various pollinator species. Its bright yellow flowers are particularly attractive to bees, including native species such as bumblebees and solitary bees. These bees feed on the nectar and collect pollen, which they use to feed their larvae.

Butterflies, such as the Monarch and Painted Lady, are also frequent visitors. They rely on the nectar as a food source during their long migrations. Additionally, Lanceleaf Tickseed attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, which help control pest populations in the garden.

Lanceleaf Tickseed is well-suited to well-frained soils of the Midwest. It thrives in full sun, making it an ideal plant for challenging areas such as sandy banks, prairies, and meadows. Its deep root system helps stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, contributing to the health of the ecosystem.

In my own experience, planting Lanceleaf Tickseed is helping to transform a barren, sandy bank into a vibrant, lively area. The once lifeless and eroding spot is now a habitat for pollinators and a beautiful addition to the landscape. The success of Lanceleaf Tickseed in such conditions underscores its resilience and adaptability.

Whether you are a gardener, a conservationist, or a nature enthusiast, Lanceleaf Tickseed offers a resilient and rewarding addition to your plantings. Its ability to thrive in tough conditions and support pollinator populations makes it a valuable asset to any Midwestern landscape.

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