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Blue violet flowers / Getty Images

Learn some backyard botany from Tennessee State Parks Ranger Meg who is also the East Tennessee regional interpretive specialist. In the series of videos below, Meg provides several facts and interesting information on common blue violets, dandelions and common mulleins. Can you find any of these in your yard? 

— BLUE VIOLETS: The common blue violet has five petals and can be found in moist, shaded areas such as stream banks. The name "violet" actually doesn't come from the color violet — it's the other way around. The color earned its name from the flower. There are several different kinds of violet blooms, and you can differentiate them by the stem. The blue violet is the state flower for Illinois and Rhode Island. 

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— DANDELIONS: Unfortunately, a lot of people think dandelions are pesky weeds. Dandelions are actually very helpful plants that are good for humans and animals, too. The flowers have been used for a long time in medicine and are full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. The petals provide pollen and nectar in the early spring for honey bees. The name "dandelion" comes from a French word that means "tooth of the lion". 

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— COMMON MULLEINS: Worried about running out of toilet paper during the pandemic? This common plant is so soft it could be used as toilet paper in the wilderness. This plant — Common mullein — is common in places easily disturbed, like the side of roadways. It's native to the Mediterranean and not the United States. The plant's big, wide and fuzzy leaves are sometimes used as a shoe insert to provide comfort. 

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For more videos from Tennessee State Parks, visit their YouTube channel here.

 

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