Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pink Prairie Rose Sipping Morning Dew

Summer morning. A Prairie Rose bud, petals furling in soft early light, sips pink and blue waterdrops, opens lips to the sun.

Early morning rose bud in the dew © SB
Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Rose
Location:  Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: July 14, 2014. 


Monday, September 15, 2014

Prairie Sage and Pasture Sage on Prairies (and Pastures)

Prairie Sage (left, right, and lower middle stalks)
and Pasture Sage (middle) © SB
Not all Sage on the Prairie is Prairie Sage, nor all Sage in pastures, Pasture Sage.

Though some might be...

In addition to these, there is also Sagebrush...

And some sources call Prairie and Pasture Sages, Sageworts, instead.

But I am not at all confused. (Or, perhaps only slightly...)

First up, Prairie Sage. (Or Prairie Sagewort.)

This wooly-leaved aromatic plant has minute yellow-grey flowers, which dry to a prettier (to me) shade of rusty brown.

Prairie Sage is fairly low-growing, with branching stems and wide leaves — and may grow with Pasture Sage, as at right.

(The Pasture Sage is a bit tricky to see in this image... Its yellow flower stalk is against the middle Prairie Sage stalk. To identify either, better to refer to the other pictures, below.)

Prairie Sage flowers, slightly past their prime  © SB
Stalk of Prairie Sage © SB

Next, Pasture Sage. (Or Pasture Sagewort.) Also aromatic and sage-scented, Pasture Sage sports stalks of numerous (very small) yellow flowers that rise above its hairy, thread-like, ground-level leaves. (These fragile stalks remind me of delicate strands of bells, and they are rarely still, drifting in even the slightest breeze.)

Pasture Sage flowers. © SB
Stalks of Pasture Sage flowers © SB
Pasture Sage plant. © SB

Both Prairie Sage and Pasture Sage are said to be traditional remedies for relieving complaints such as stomach ache and heartburn... But don't take my word for it: Best to do your own research (and research well!) before consuming any wildflower or plant!  

Prairie Wildflowers: Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) and Pasture Sage (Artemisia frigida)
Location:  Near Regina, and in Grasslands National Park,Saskatchewan, Canada, 
Photo Dates: August 21, 22, and 30, 2014. 


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Common Tall Sunflower: Yellow Beauty

Along the edges of a creek, a few Sunflowers. From the leaves, stem and height, Common Tall Sunflowers, a plant Royer/Dickinson say grows in moist meadows and along the edge of sloughs. So water... Yes, there was that. A lot of that, in fact, complete with diving terns and ducks.

Flower of Common Tall Sunflower, with disc florets  © SB

There are so many Sunflowers, and from a close-up flower shot, it's tough to tell — at least for me! — one from another... That's why the local wildflower experts take many detailed images to show a wide range of plant and flower features. The newly re-hosted Saskatchewan Wildflowers website is a superb example and reference site. 

As for me, my interest is/was primarily in photography, though my interest in the beauty of the flowers themselves is quickly catching up. (Ditto, for the birds on my Prairie Nature blog.) 

I start in one place, and end in another — far from where I thought I was going...

Prairie Wildflower: Common Tall Sunflower
Location:  Near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Dates: August 20, 2014. 


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Smooth Camas: White and Green Saskatchewan Wildflowers

Smooth Camas with fly.  © SB
A stand of Smooth Camas blooms in a wet hollow by the side of the road, stems of white, green and yellow flowers swaying gently in the wind.

Another first for me — I've never seen this prairie and parkland wildflower before, and was lucky to see so many at once. (The flowers usually appear in June, so I'm glad these native plants were still showing off their display in mid-July.)

These lily-shaped flowers grow on stalks a foot or two tall — typically in moist areas, though in some dry meadows, too — and, from my (limited) observation, seem to be highly attractive to insects of all kinds!  

One of my guides (Royer/Dickinson) calls this plant, with its graceful, arching stalks of flowers, White Camas, and its formal name is Zigadenus elegans. This guide says this Camas is slightly poisonous to humans and livestock, while the related dry-hillside Death Camas or Zigadenus venenosus — no surprise with a name like that! — is very poisonous.

Close-up of single Smooth Camas flower.  © SB

Smooth Camas with mosquito  © SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Smooth Camas
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan,  Canada.  
Photo Date: July 13 and 14, 2014.  


Friday, August 29, 2014

Harebells in the Dew: Back to Blue

After so many bright Saskatchewan wildflowers, here's one of my favourites: Delicate blue-purple Harebells. These bell-shaped flowers come in a range of shade — to me, the colour varies a lot depending on the light. As all colour does...

In the shade, Harebells look far more intensely vibrantly blue than they appear in bright sunshine.A lovely contrast with all the yellows of summer!

Harebell, in dappled light, with early morning dew  © SB

Early morning Harebells.  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia)
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan,  Canada.  
Photo Date: July 14, 2014.  


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Narrow-leaved Sunflowers

This week, near Regina, Saskatchewan, I saw a patch of Narrow-leaved Sunflowers in a sheltered hollow. I didn't realize at first that's what they were — but the pictures tell the story, displaying this species' typically narrow and slightly folded greyish-green leaves

Narrow-leaved Sunflowers  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Narrow-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus maximilianii
Location:  Condie Nature Refuge, Near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Dates: August 22, 2014. 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Green Bog Orchids: tough to see, but truly orchids!

Green Bog Orchid  © SB
Some flowers cry out for a close-up view, and none I've seen have cried louder than Saskatchewan's native Green Bog Orchid.

Unlike some prairie orchids, which appear glamourous and bright (at least in photographs), the Green Bog Orchid looks subdued and shy, and its green flowers don't look at all exciting — or like actual flowers —  until you get really, really close and realize, Yes! It's an Orchid! 

I had help with that. Someone else found a few orchid plants in a wet area, and kindly pointed them out to me. Even then, I wasn't sure what I was looking at until I got down on my hands and knees to peer at the green stalk, and saw that it really was covered in orchid flowers.

The four or five Green Bog Orchid plants that I saw earlier this summer were at most about one foot tall, and the individual flowers, only millimetres wide. No perfume, no colour but green (with a slight yellow tinge on the lip). And to me, highly exotic in their inconspicuous restraint.
Close-up of Green Bog Orchid flower.  © SB

It was difficult to photograph an entire Green Bog Orchid plant because of other vegetation in the area, with which these orchids blended wonderfully well... Below, the best of the lot — an enhanced image, with the background dulled and the brightness of the orchid stalk and lower leaves slightly increased.

For more on these orchids, see Saskatchewan Wildflowers, or Manitoba's Native Orchid Conservation.

Green Bog Orchid - full plant.  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Green Bog Orchid (Platanthera aquilonis, formerly Platanthera hyperborea)
Location: Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada.  
Photo Date: July 13, 2014.  


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wild Purple Flowers: Smooth Asters

I find identifying composite flowers difficult, but from my guides, Smooth Asters are the most likely Asters in my area, so that's what I'm guessing these lovely blue-purple prairie wildflowers must be.

Smooth Asters, with blueish-purple ray florets (no, those aren't really petals)
and yellow disk florets (the centre part).  © SB  

Close-up of Smooth Aster's centre disk florets    © SB  

By any name, these Asters are beautiful, and they are great late wildflowers with which to enjoy nature photography. I've found them blooming from July through September around the Condie Nature Refuge, north of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Prairie Wildflower: Smooth Asters
Location: Near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: August 22, 2014.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Broomweed — grass-high, golden Prairie wildflower

Broomweed   ©  SB
The wind gusts grew stronger, and the prairie flowers I'd been trying to photograph tossed back and forth.

But at my feet, protected in low grass, Broomweed — a tiny golden wildflower — stayed (relatively) still.

Broomweed is so tiny and this stand was so small that I hadn't even noticed the golden, grass-high flowers until the wind gusts came.

And by grass-high, I mean the height of the grass in the mown pathway on which I was walking, not the height of natural prairies grasses left free to grow...

As for these flowers, each are only about 3 mm high.

Sometimes what seems like a obstacle can be an advantage...I'm glad I looked down and saw these deep yellow Prairie wildflowers, with their dark narrow leaves.

Close-up of Broomweed flowers. © SB

View of Broomweed plants.  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Broomweed
Location: Near Regina, Saskatchewan,  Canada.  
Photo Date: August 22, 2014.  


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Showy Milkweed — With Monarch Butterfly

Showy Milkweed   © SB
If my Regina, Saskatchewan, front yard was larger, I would love to fill it with Showy Milkweed plants to attract and feed Monarch Butterflies.

To me, the complex, compound flowers of Showy Milkweed are very beautiful, although the plant's growth pattern might be a bit overwhelming in a small space.

But oh, having my own Monarch Butterfly colony would be so much fun! These large, black and orange butterflies are lovely to watch, and their larva have vivid black, white and yellow stripes.

And Monarchs need all the help they can get these days. They rely on Milkweed, a plant that's not as common as the butterflies or butterfly watchers would like it to be, thanks to development and its designations over the years as a weed. (The latter is changing, with the recognition of its importance as a unique food source.)

Monarch Butterfly feeding on Showy Milkweed flowers  © SB

Monarch Butterfly larva/caterpillar feeding on Showy Milkweed leaf.  © SB
Stand of Showy Milkweed.   © SB

These photos were all taken a few years ago at Nature Regina's Native Plant Garden at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

Prairie Wildflower: Showy Milkweed 
Location: Regina, Saskatchewan,  Canada.  
Photo Date: July 10, 11, and 12, 2012.  


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