Free Nature Studies: Wildflowers

One wildflower, such as the daisy, may have a number of flowers contained in one head.

Read the current chapter online: “A Field Daisy and Its Family”

  • This lesson will be much enhanced if a daisy is available for analysis.
  • Add the field daisy, otherwise known as the ox-eye daisy or Leucanthemum vulgare, to your notebook (fact sheet from the Montana State University Extension).
  • Add the other wildflowers mentioned to your notebook:
  • Review the anatomy of a flower at Identify the sepals, calyx and stamen of a flower.
  • Discuss the principle offered that “what others tell you you may soon forget, but when you discover a new thing all by yourself, it is such fun that you will remember it without trouble.” Why do you think this is true? Can you think of an illustrative example in your own experience?
  • You’ll find resources below for dissecting a daisy (including a virtual option if a live daisy is unavailable).
  • Learn more about disk (or composite) flowers and the composite family flower structure at
  • Make a list of composite flowers.
  • Use a an interactive flip-book maker to illustrate and explain the three different types of arrangements for composite flowers (four different types if you include the category of “all three.”)
  • Study the wildflowers in your area. Make a list of them. What insects visit each? Which plants make seeds? You’ll find recording forms below.
  • Make a wildflower collection. Select one specimen of each type in your area to press, label and keep.
  • Something to do #1: You can read about the Shasta daisy at the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens.
  • Something to do #2: Narrate the Shasta daisy story — written, or oral for the younger student.
  • Something to do #3 & 4: You’ll find nature journal paper below that will be perfect for recording the composite flowers you find near where you live.
  • Memorize Psalm 65:9 or Isaiah 40:8, and use for copywork or dictation.
  • Read, memorize, and recite “Daisies” by Bliss William Carman.
  • More about flowers from the Book of Knowledge:

You can make the flowers and leaves you pick in the country or in the garden last many years by pressing them and pasting them on sheets of paper….

Leaves and flowers fade and become crumpled soon after you pick them unless you take special precautions. Wrap your collections in waxed paper as you gather them. If they have dried and stiffened before you get home, freshen them by putting them in water. Or you can start pressing and drying your leaves, flowers and small plants as soon as you gather them. The most convenient way is simply to slip them between the pages of a magazine or large book that has leaves of rough or pulp paper. (Smooth or “slick” paper is not good because it does not absorb water so fast.) If you put more than one leaf or flower between the same two pages, make sure the specimens do not touch each other. Spread the leaf or flower out carefully and make sure that it lies perfectly flat; then carry the magazine flat. It is a good idea to write the name of the plant, if you know it, on the margin of the page; also, the date and the place where you collected it.

Don’t collect too much in one day. A few good specimens, carefully selected and properly prepared are worth more than a basketful of withered remnants. Whatever you do, don’t destroy rare species or cultivated specimens. If you ask permission, the owner of a garden will usually be glad to let you help yourself to a few flowers and leaves.

When you get home, spread your leaves and flowers out flat between sheets of newspaper. Then pile on several layers of newspaper and place the heaviest books in the house on top. The purpose is to let the specimens dry flat. Change them to new magazines or papers every day until they are dry enough to remain flat. You may have to change the papers three or four times before the plants are fairly dry. Then put the plants between dry newspapers for the last time and let them stay there, under pressure, for several days more or even longer than this.

When the plants are thoroughly dry, you are ready to mount them on sheets of fairly stiff paper or thin cardboard…. Use glue that is quite thick; if the glue you have seems too thick, you can thin it with a little water. You can either apply the glue to the specimen with a brush or spread the glue on a glass plate and then lay the specimen on the glue. In any case you must make sure that the glue comes in contact with every part of the one surface of the specimen….

When the specimen is on the mounting paper, lay the wax paper over it and then you can press down on the wax paper instead of touching the specimen directly. Again pile heavy books on top, making sure that everything is kept perfectly flat. Let the whole arrangement remain for a couple of days more until the glue has dried thoroughly.

Now you have a specimen that will last as long as you do if you take care not to bend the mounting.

“Collecting Things Outdoors: Flowers and Leaves,” The Book of Knowledge
  • Plants
    Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature Study covers plants beginning on page 453, and continuing through page 731. The beginning pages cover how to begin the study of plants and their flowers, and then follow guidelines for investigating specific wildflowers, weeds, garden flowers, cultivated crop plants, trees, and flowerless plants. The study of wildflowers begins on page 460. You’ll find the daisy and many of the other flowers mentioned in the weed section.

Further Investigation

Composite or Daisy Family
Helpful guide at Brandeis University with a list of common composite flowers.

Wildflowers of the United States
List of wildflower resources and guides by state.


Interactive Virtual Flower Dissection
See the flower up close.

Daisy Color By Number
Simple activity for young students from

Preserving Wildflowers
One option from at U.S. Forest Service.

Wildflower Bookmark Gift
Wondering what to do with your pressed flowers? Instructions at the U.S. Forest Service.


Stories of Luther Burbank and His Plant School {Free eBook}
More on the Shasta daisy.

The First Book of Plants {Free eBook}

The First Book of Plants {Free eBook}
Free public domain title that makes an excellent introduction to plants and can be used as a helpful plant study reference.

Wild Flowers Worth Knowing by Neltje Blanchan
Public domain work with color plates to help with identification.

Field and Woodland Plants by William S. Furneaux
More advanced public domain work for older children.  Includes classification information, detailed diagrams, and wonderful illustrations that aid in creating a notebook.

Free Nature Studies: Wildflowers

Wildflowers (Fandex Family Field Guides)
This Fandex has received its fair share of use in our home! Handy on walks.

For an ideal wildflower identification book, we have had the best success with those devoted to the wildflowers in our state. Add your state name to this simple wildflower search at Amazon and you should end up with a large selection to choose from. Suggest avoiding state books written as part of a series.

The Field Book of Western Wild Flowers by Margaret Armstrong
If you are looking for a free identification guide, this is one of the best in the public domain.  Read our entire review with suggestions and resources.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Flower Dissection Lab Sheet
Notebook pages for recording observations when dissecting a flower as suggested above.

Color Wildflowers
USDA Forest Service has 44 wildflowers to color. Great addition to notebook!

Wildflowers of the Western U.S.
The USDA Forest Service also has a 50-page download of nicely illustrated western wildflowers to color.

Color of Flowers
Wildflower color-by-number pages at the U.S. Forest Service.

Flower Shape Book
Cute notebook page for younger children.

Nature Journal Notebooking Sets {Free Download}
Free blank nature journal sets for drawing, illustrating, copying, or narrating.

Wildflowers Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, and Something to Do #1 and #2.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World

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