Wildflower bloom along Nashville greenway attracts attention during pandemic

Wildflowers bloom along Shelby Bottoms greenway
Posted at 6:11 AM, Sep 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-13 07:11:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A big bloom of wildflowers along a Nashville greenway has taken off on social media, as more people head to local parks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The flourishing field is made up of thousands of long-bracted tickseed sunflowers, better known as beggarticks. For weeks, the wildflowers have been wowing visitors on the Shelby Bottoms Greenway in East Nashville.

"Starting about the end of August we have just seen amazing blooms on these flowers," said Rebecca Ratz, executive director of Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms, adding that the bloom is one of the biggest she can remember. "It is definitely the first year that I have noticed it to this extent."

The booming bloom is caused by good weather and strategic mowing by the Metro Parks Department. Experts mow the area to simulate a fire season that would normally clear away forest growth. Ratz said this year's mowing schedule created perfect conditions for a major bloom.

The floral phenomenon comes as the Shelby Bottoms Greenway is already seeing growing crowds.

"Since the pandemic, we have seen a dramatic increase in park usage," Ratz said. "Normally people would be out at the movies, going to the mall, some place with air conditioning in the summer, and COVID has definitely brought people outside... and so more people have definitely brought more attention to it."

The sea of tickseed doesn't just attract people, it attracts a lot of insects as well.

"They’ve been attracting butterflies and insects and grasshoppers and all sorts of fun pollinating bugs," Ratz said.

Ratz estimates the bloom as a little past its peak, but there is still time to see the bloom before it disappears. The meadow is along the one-mile loop trail in Shelby Bottoms, which is open from dawn until dusk.