Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Red Clover - a Naturalized Prairie Wildflower

Because this blog needs more pink, a Red Clover flower:

Red Clover. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.

And yes, I know Red Clover is not a native plant in the Canadian Prairies, but it has lived here long enough to spread out and become a fairly common wildflower — and, when you look closely at the tiny compound flowers, they are very pretty.

Red Clover is a legume, and can be identified by the white V-shape on its non-serrated hairy leaves, and the terminal, or top, position of its pinkish-purple flowers.


Prairie Wildflower: Red Clover
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: July 6, 2015

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Purple Milkvetch: Tiny purple-blue pea-like flowers

Purple Milkvetch. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Close-up of Purple Milkvetch.  © SB

Purple milkvetch is a widely distributed North American wildflower that under the right (or perhaps, wrong) conditions might be seen as a ground cover or a weed. But how pretty its new spring flowers are!

I found a patch growing in Wascana Park recently, one of the first spring flowers I've seen locally this year. (And no, I have not been out much, or yes, I know I'd see more...)

Most of the Purple Milkvetch plants in this patch were tufted and all were low-growing. I am so glad I got there before the mowers arrived!

Purple Milkvetch. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
A small tufted plant of Purple Milkvetch. © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Purple Milkvetch
Location: Regina, Saskatchewan. 
Photo Date: May 19, 2016

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Senecaroot: Pink-purple grassland and forest wildflower

Senecaroot in Saskatchewan.  Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Senecaroot flowers   © SB
The pinkish-purple flowers of Senecaroot were a mystery to me at first, because most of the sources I checked showed these round clusters to be white or green.

But the stalks I photographed near Muenster, Saskatchewan, had a dark and distinct rosy hue — a colour I finally saw matched and mentioned in Royer-Dickinson's Plants of Alberta

In R-D's book, this plant's name is spelled as one word: Senecaroot, so that's the way I'm using it here, although I've also seen it as two words, Seneca Root, and with variants in spelling, such as Senega Root, which makes some sense as formal name is Polygala senega.  

The name is said to honour the Seneca people, who used it to heal snakebites, perhaps because of the root's resemblance to a snake — leading to its other names, Seneca Snakeroot and Rattlesnake Root. Wikipedia says the root was exported and marketed to Europe for use in pneumonia treatments, and it is still used in herbal remedies.

Senecaroot, a member of the Milkwort family, is found in moist grasslands and open forests. It's a native North America plant, apparently widely spread across Canada.

Some of the Senecaroot plants I found two summers ago were in a moist dip (some might call it a ditch) at the edge of a road, near a stream. Others were along the edge of a wooded area, in a patch of fertile soil with a range of other flowers — also near a drainage area. (Both pictured here were in the former location.)

Senecaroot in Saskatchewan.  Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Senecaroot flower © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Senecaroot, or Seneca Root
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan.
Photo Dates: July 14, 2014

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Giant Hyssop: Spikes with clusters of purple blue flowers

Dense clusters of purple-blue, tubular flowers grow on spikes of Giant Hyssop, a wildflower much loved by bees. Like all members of the mint family, Giant Hyssop has a square stem; it also has a slight anise scent.  

Giant Hyssop flowers Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Stalk of Giant Hyssop flowers.  © SB 
Giant Hyssop flowers Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
A bee on Giant Hyssop - with a second bee zooming in,
mid-left at edge of frame. © SB

And yes, these photos were taken a while ago... I've been going through my files.


Prairie Wildflower: Giant Hyssop.
Location: Native Plant Garden, Royal Saskatchewan Museum.
Photo Dates: July 12 and 13, 2012.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Early Cinquefoil: Prairie flower in the Bow Valley

Early Cinquefoil. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Early Cinquefoil, in the Bow Valley Provincial Park.  © SB
At the top of a dry, sandy moraine in the Bow Valley, we saw bright yellow Early Cinquefoil in bloom.

These low, short-stemmed wildflowers are native to the dry, open prairie, and belong to the Rose family.

The species name, concinna, means "elegant and well-behaved," a reference to this small plant's neat appearance, Royer and Dickinson say in Plants of Alberta.

We looked for more along the trail, but only found a few Early Cinquefoil plants at the top of one sunny hill.

Early Cinquefoil. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Early Cinquefoil, blooming in dry dirt and stones at the top of a moraine. © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Early Cinquefoil
Location: Moraine Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta.
Photo Date: April 13, 2016

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hooker's Townsendia - Low White Townsend Daisies

Hooker's Townsendia. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Hooker's Townsendia, in early bloom near Banff, Alberta. © SB

Hooker's Townsendia, a cushion of low white flowers on grey-furred leaves, grows on dry prairie grasslands and eroded slopes.

I was surprised to find a few blooming on a sun-drenched hillside in April in Banff National Park, near the helpfully illustrated sign, labelled "Townsend / Townsendie de Hooker."

The name of this native plant honours the 19th century American naturalist David Townsend, and his English contemporary, botanist William J. Hooker.

Although Royer and Dickenson's Plants of Alberta indicates July/August as this plant's flowering time, the Montana field guide shows sightings only in April/May. 

Hooker's Townsendia. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Hooker's Townsend Daisy  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Townsendia (Hooker's Townsend Daisy / Townsendia hookeri)
Location: Near Banff, Alberta.
Photo Date: April 12, 2016

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Prairie Crocus: First Growth from Dry Grasses

Prairie Crocus. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Prairie Crocus. Wascana Trails, near Regina, SK  © SB
Prairie Crocuses are still blooming freely around Regina, Saskatchewan and even west into the foothills of Alberta, near Banff. Yesterday, I even heard of a spot near here with hundreds of huge clusters — so many that you'd have to walk carefully to avoid them! I would like to visit... 

I love these plants, whose buds push through the late winter ground before any of their leaves appear. Among the earliest blooming wildflowers on the Prairies, they are one of our first signs of spring, and striking for their soft, bright, blue-purplish-pink-white flowers. (Yes, all shades — it depends how open the flowers is, and the colour of the light around them.) 

Of course, Prairie Crocuses aren't really crocuses at all, but a kind of anemone. They are also called Pasque-flowers. But those are just details. What matters to me is the sight of these flowers bobbing in the wind on a cool, sunny day on the Prairies. Spring! 

Prairie Crocus. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
The first buds on this cluster have died off - or been by frost,
but every day, new ones will open. © SB
Prairie Crocus. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
I'm so amazed - each and every year - to see
fully formed flowers jutting out of the bare earth. © SB 
Prairie Crocus. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
A breeze, a Prairie Crocus. Or two.
In the Prairies - or in this case - at Banff! 

(And that startled us... We didn't realize they'd grow 
in dry alpine or montagne landscapes, too. Who knew?) © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Crocus  
Location: Top 2: Wascana Trails, near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; lower 2: Near Banff, Alberta.
Photo Date: Top 2: April 16, 2016; lower 2: April 12, 2016 


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Saturday, April 2, 2016

It's Prairie Crocus Time on the Prairies

The Prairie Crocuses have started to bloom — a definite sign that Spring is really and finally here! I expect within the next few days, as the weather continues to stay warm, there will be a lot more of these lovely purple and gold flowers appearing on our straw-brown Saskatchewan hillsides.

Prairie Crocus, © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
The first Prairie Crocuses of the year.
Qu'Appelle Valley, SK, Canada  © SB

We were also relieved not to see any insects in the dry grasses — especially not any wood ticks, which will soon be out in great force. (A recent local radio item said that they are already out, but as I didn't see any, I prefer not to believe that...) 


Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Crocus  
Location: Hidden Valley, near Craven, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: April 2, 2016 


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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Birdsfoot Trefoil in Regina's Wascana Park

Birdsfoot Trefoil. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Birdsfoot Trefoil  © SB
Yesterday, when we were walking in Regina's Wascana Park, I noticed bright yellow flowers growing beside the path.

A member of the pea family, Birdsfoot Trefoil is an introduced species that has adapted well to Prairie life.

This coarsely leaved, dense and colourful plant spreads in fields and roadsides — and parks.

Birdsfoot Trefoil. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Birdsfoot Trefoil - a low growing plant with very pretty bright yellow flowers.  © SB

Birdsfoot Trefoil. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Birdsfoot Trefoil along the path in Wascana Park,   
with dense leafiness and pinkish buds.  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Birdsfoot Trefoil  
Location: Wascana Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: August 17, 2015. 


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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Scarlet Mallow in the Grasslands: Summer Orange

Scarlet Mallow is one of my favourite Prairie wildflowers. This low, distinctive, native plant has dusty leaves and lovely scarlet flowers. (And yes, I know, I have many favourites, but every time I see Scarlet Mallow, I know it's definitely among them!)

Scarlet Mallow. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Lovely bright orange Scarlet Mallow flowers © SB

We saw these Scarlet Mallow plants near the edge of an amazing teepee ring and view across the valley in the South Gillespie part of the West Block of Grasslands National Park. 


Prairie Wildflower: Scarlet Mallow.
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: June 22, 2015.

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