Monday, June 20, 2016

Bessey's Locoweed: Low growing with bright pink flowers

Bessey's Locoweed has distinctively bright pink flowers — glaringly bright when seen in the harsh sunlight of the dry, gravelly bluffs where it grows. 

Bessey's Locoweed. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Bessey's Locoweed in flower at Grasslands National Park. © SB

I've photographed this attractive, low — and to me, uncommon — wildflower several times in Grasslands National Park, where it can easily be found on 70 Mile Butte and along the edge of the cliffs at the start of the Ecotour Drive. This member of the pea family can also look slightly gray or silvery, because of the hairs on its leaves — er, leaflets.

Bessey's Locoweed. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Another view of Bessey's Locoweed. © SB
Bessey's Locoweed. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Bessey's Locoweed - fresh pink and dying purple flowers. © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Bessey's Locoweed
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Dates: June 25, 2013; June 23, 2012.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Scarlet Gaura: Delicate pink flowers, pale leaves

Scarlet Gaura. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Scarlet Gaura at Grasslands National Park.  © SB
Tufts of Scarlet Gaura grew around our site when we tented recently in Grasslands National Park. None of the tiny red, pink and white flowers were visible, though. The park lawnmowers had taken care of that, and all that remained was a gray-green ground cover.  

But uncut native prairie grasses and plants blossom on the hill above and around the edges of the Frenchman River Campground, and there I found Scarlet Gaura in full bloom. 

(At least, that's one of this delicate flower's many names, which include Scarlet Beeblossom.)  

I first started looking for wildflowers earlier in the day, and the first Scarlet Gaura I saw was far from scarlet. Instead of orange or red, the flowers were very pale pink. 

Almost white, in fact, which is how these flowers first appear, before gradually darkening during the day. 

The flowers I found that evening were much brighter — and the light was a lovely gold.
 
Scarlet Gaura. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Pale early Scarlet Gaura flowers.   © SB
Scarlet Gaura. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Bright orange-red evening Scarlet Gaura flowers. 
Scarlet Gaura. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Close-up view of a tiny Scarlet Gaura flower.  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Scarlet Gaura
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Dates: June 13, 2016.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Canada Anemone: White native shade wildflower


Large flowers along the road or hidden in the trees surprise me, so when I saw Canada Anemones growing in a ditch and at the edge of a damp woodland, I wondered at first if they'd been planted there. And who knows where these particular plants came from — but, as befits its name, the Canada Anemone is a native plant.

Canada Anemones. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Canada Anemone flower, seen from above.  © SB

Canada Anemones. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Dense cluster of Canada Anemone plants.  © SB

Canada Anemones. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Canada Anemone flowers. © SB 

These plants tend to grow in large clusters, and didn't seem affected  by even the dirt and grit of nearby grid roads.


Prairie Wildflower: Canada Anemone
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Dates: July 4, 2015; July 6 and 21, 2014.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Yellow Clover: Tall yellow roadside wildflower

Yellow Clover, or Yellow Sweet-Clover, is a common flower that waves in the breeze along gravel grids and highways in Saskatchewan. Although it grows wild, it's not a native plant, and when first introduced, it was considered a weed. Now, Yellow Clover may be grown as a forage crop. It also spreads in waste land and along road allowances.  

Yellow Sweet-Clover. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Yellow Sweet-Clover. © SB
Yellow Sweet-Clover. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Yellow Sweet-Clover.  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Yellow Clover
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: July 14 and 16, 2014

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pink Alsike Clover - Pink and White

Today, a close-up of Alsike Clover. (Who knew there were so many different Clovers?)

Alsike Clover. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Alsike Clover flowers.  © SB 


Alsike Clover. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Alsike Clover, showing leaves and growth pattern © SB

Alsike can be identified by its smooth, plain green, serrated leaves, its often white-tinged flowers, and the position of the flowers at axillary points throughout the plant. This small, introduced wildflower can also be toxic to animals.


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

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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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