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In the Highways, In the Hedges: Plains Coreopsis

Updated: Jul 19, 2019

Coreopsis tinctoria at Lake Fayetteville

Once we're smack-dab in the middle of summer, the color along the highways is predominantly golden yellow. In addition to the Black-Eyed Susans and various members of the Sunflower family, you'll see these little guys. Looked at individually, they're very pretty, with their golden petals and deep-red hearts. Seen en masse in a painterly swath, mixed with pale Queen Anne's Lace, and bright blue Chicory, they are nothing short of stunning.

You might also see this plant referred to as Golden Tickseed or Garden Tickseed because, logically, the seeds resemble ticks. In Greek, koris means "bug" and opsis refers to a shape or likeness: it looks like a bug. The tinctoria part of the name refers to the fact that it can be used as dye, and natural dying resources do, in fact, offer instructions for producing yellow to gold to orange dyes with the flower heads.

Any plant that thrives on the side of the highway is a hardy soul, and Plains Coreopsis makes for a nice, low-maintenance addition to your home butterfly garden. It's listed as native to every state in the US except Nevada and Utah, so plant it freely, and enjoy the splash of color.