Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Birdsfoot Trefoil in Regina's Wascana Park

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 - a low growing plant with very pretty bright yellow flowers.  © SB

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. 


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!)

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.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fireweed beside a Saskatchewan slough

Fireweed flower © SB
Saskatchewan is not the first place that comes to mind when I think of Fireweed. 

Instead, I'd imagine B.C., the Yukon, and Alaska, where I've seen this plant growing freely. 

But as Fireweed likes open areas and riverbanks, why wouldn't it like growing beside a Saskatchewan slough? 

And on the bank above the water the day I took these pictures, three plants were growing, full and healthy... 

Who knows? Next year, there may be none... or more. 

Fireweed flower  © SB

A graceful Fireweed plant, growing beside a Saskatchewan slough.  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Fireweed.  
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: July 4, 2015.  


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Blue-eyed Grass: Tiny Summer Prairie Wildflower

You might have to look carefully to see Blue-eyed Grass at your feet. These tiny purplish flowers bloom well in the midst of taller grasses, and as the stalks of Blue-eyed Grass look like, well, grass, they will be well disguised.

Blue-eyed Grass, with seed pods. Usually upright, this stalk had fallen or been bent over.  © SB

Once I started looking last week, I found many Blue-eyed Grass flowers, and even more swaying stalks, with multiple seed pods.

Delightful, though too small for more than an instant of joy while searching moist or sandy Prairie areas. (The ones I found were along a train track and in a ditch.)

Prairie Wildflower: Blue-eyed Grass
Location: Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Dates: July 6, 2015. 


Friday, July 24, 2015

Late Yellow Locoweed: Creamy white July flowers

Late Yellow Locoweed. © SB
The creamy flowered Late Yellow Locoweed comes by its name honestly:

  • It blooms much later than Early Yellow Locoweed; and 
  • Both Locoweed plants can apparently affect the nervous system, and thus the behaviour of animals who eat these plants. 

Late Yellow Locoweed blooms in Prairie grasslands, open woodlands and eroded slopes, with the whitish flower stalks rising straight and tall above the leaves.

I saw Late Yellow Locoweed this summer in a corner of a ditch where several other early summer wildflowers were blooming.

The very light colours of the petals were a challenge to capture — too much light, and they washed out; too little, and the detail vanished.

Stalks of Late Yellow Locoweed, with small creamy white flowers   © SB

A stand of Late Yellow Locoweed.   © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Late Yellow Locoweed.  
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: July 8 and 9, 2015.   


Monday, July 20, 2015

Ascending Purple Milk-Vetch: Blue and Purple Flowers

Ascending Purple Milk Vetch flower cluster © SB
The dense purple and blue flower clusters of Ascending Purple Milk-Vetch remind me of clover.

And that's what I thought it might be the first time I saw it — though I've never seen clover the colour of this milk-vetch.

Ascending Purple Milk-Vetch flower stalks are usually erect, and, well, ascending...

Except when they're weak, and slump along the ground...

The flower clusters on Ascending Purple Milk-Vetch are up to two inches long, and when they're upright, rise well above the clearly vetch-like multiple leaflets.

Even from a distance, this is a very pretty Prairie wildflower, with petals shading through lilac, lavendar and white.

It's small enough, though, that long grass can overwhelm it. (Or hide the particularly lovely clusters from this photographer, who doesn't practice clear-cutting other vegetation for each shot.)

Flowers of Ascending Purple Milk-Vetch, with leaflets in background. © SB

Ascending Purple Milk-Vetch plants.  © SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Ascending Purple Milk-Vetch .  
Location: 1&2: Near Muenster, and 3: in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: 1&2: July 9, 2015, and 3: June 26, 2015.  


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mid-Summer begins with Gaillardia in Saskatchewan

When the bright faces of Gaillardia flowers appear, I know that it must be mid-summer. And so, here's lovely reminder of sunshine — yes, for me... I'll be back to this page again in mid-winter to see this Prairie wildflower...

Larger than life, a glowing Gaillardia flower along a gravel Saskatchewan road.  ©SB

Prairie Wildflower: Gaillardia.  
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: July 6, 2015.  


Monday, July 13, 2015

Branched Umbrellaplant with Pink and White Flowers

Branched Umbrellaplant ©SB
We found the Branched Umbrellaplant in rock-strewn clay in range land near the Canada/U.S. border, on our way to the southern section of the West Block of Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.

These hairy gray perennials were so small — less than eight inches in height from woody base to frilly petals — and the nearby Prickly Pear Cactus so flamboyant, that at first, I didn't notice these delicate wildflowers, scattered across the badlands before us.

Like many Prairie wildflowers, Branched Umbrellaplants are best seen at ground level, so I sat in the dirt to look closer at their small, dense umbels of pink, coral and white mini-flowers.

As my eyes became accustomed to the scale, I eventually found a few woolly Branched Umbrellaplants with paler pink and whitish flowers, too, each so tiny that to photograph them is to provide a clear, though partial, answer to the question someone recently asked me...

"Why do you like taking pictures of Prairie Wildflowers?"

Because to photograph is to look, and to look is to see — and my camera with a macro or zoom lens helps me see so much more than my weak eyes alone can manage. Worlds open. I sense more about my surroundings. I'm often in awe of it all.

Close-up of Branched Umbrellaplant flowers. Delicate and lovely,
each is only a tiny fraction of an inch — a few millimetres — across. ©SB

And the more I learn, the more in awe I am. 

For example, the locally rare (S3, in Saskatchewan) Branched Umbrellaplant or Eriogonum pauciflorum or Fewflower Buckwheat is the sole source of food for the threatened Prairie population of the Mormon Metalmark butterfly — except in adulthood, when these small brown butterflies may also feed on nectar from Rabbitbrush.

Mormon Metalmarks are typically found in the southwestern U.S. They are the only species in the mainly neotropical familyRiodinidae that occurs in Canada. And in Canada, they are only found in B.C.'s Similkameeen Valley and Grassland National Park in Saskatchewan.

Clusters of Branched Umbrellaplants in the badlands of Grasslands National Park ©SB

Lighter, whitish flowers clusters, which I think are also Branched Umbrellaplants.
(If not, please let me know.) © SB
Close-up of an umbel of pink, white, yellow and coral Branched Umbrellaplant flowers  ©SB
An umbel of paler pink flowers, on the whitish clusters of Branched Umbrellaplants in the photo above. ©SB  

For more on the butterflies, see the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada 2003 report on the Mormon Metalmark or the related Description of Residence for Mormon Metalmark, which has a map showing its three GNP locations (the middle site is where we found these Branched Umbrellaplants), along with a photo of their preferred habitat — a hillside with rough, disturbed soil that looks exactly like the one that was directly above us. And, for more on these flowers, see Glen Lee's great Saskatchewan Wildflowers website. And, for a related Eriogonum, see the Yellow Umbrellaplant at Grasslands National Park.

My partner wanted to climb that arid hillside, but I was exhausted by the heat. Perhaps one day we'll return to GNP in late August or September, with luck during the few days when these butterflies with white checks and red wing spots mate and fly.

Prairie Wildflower: Branched Umbrellaplant.  
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: June 23, 2015.  


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Two-grooved Milk Vetch on a Prairie Bluff

We found large clusters of Two-grooved Milk Vetch as we drove along a high track across the Prairie that connected to parts of the West Block of Grasslands National Park. We stopped to enjoy their lovely deep crimson, purple and blue flowers.

Lovely colours of Two-grooved Milk Vetch  ©SB

Clump of Two-grooved Milk Vetch on the prairie.  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Two-grooved Milk Vetch  
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan,  Canada.  
Photo Date: June 22, 2015.  


Friday, July 10, 2015

Oxeye Daisy: Death trap in a Prairie Meadow

A peaceful place to sit and watch the flowers © SB
An idyllic scene, with Oxeye Daisies:

  • An old bench, its blue paint peeling and wood bleached gray. 
  • Sunset glowing on the tree trunks behind. 
  • In front, a swath of bright yellow and white daisies. 

Sit, relax, and contemplate peace — and death in the Oxeye Daisies. For these innocent looking wildflowers present high risks for the unwary.

Consider, for example, the fate of the fly that does not notice a pale white spider camouflaged against this Oxeye Daisy's white ray florets...

Fly captured by spider in Oxeye Daisy  © SB
Oxeye Daisy Deathtrap  © SB 
White and yellow ray and disk florets of Oxeye Daisies.
These are introduced plants, i.e., not native,
and can be somewhat invasive.  ©SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Oxeye Daisy   
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada.  
Photo Date: July 4-7, 2015.

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