Perhaps you might think this an in- appropriate seasonal topic but having spent much time yesterday pondering over the id of a wildflower that I found still in bloom, (photographed Nov. 17), I thought the topic worthy of mention. Sticky Groundsel had had me mystified since having first taken pictures of it in early September and I was unable to id it at the time so I had filed the photos under 'unknown wildflower'.
When looking for the id of an unknown wildflower I always check in Peterson's Wildflowers field guide first. While searching through the field guide in September I had noticed leaves similiar to those in my photos but the illustrations for Stinking Groundsel (Peterson's Wildflowers p.167) did not show any open blossoms with yellow petals as in my photos; so I passed it by.
Yesterday I decided to pursue 'Groundsel' further and found mention of the plant in Hal Hinds book, Flora of New Brunswick, p.473; and here was another clue for me . Sticky or Stinking Groundsel was found in waste areas and along railways; and that's exactly where I had found it; along the railroad tracks! Of the three Groundsels mentioned by Hinds, Sticky Groundsel was the only one that made mention of 'railways'; so maybe I was on the right track afterall. However, Hinds' book did not include any illustrations showing open petals blossoms either so I then turned to Google and did an image search for Sticky Groundsel. Doing an image search was very productive and I found several sites showing images which included the yellow petaled bloom stage as in my photos. Mystery solved!
Hinds, Harold, Flora of New Brunswick, Biology Department, UNB 2000
Peterson, Roger Tory, A Field Guide to Wildflowers Northeastern and North-central North America, Houghton Mifflin Co. 1996