Monday, July 6, 2015

Sunflower in the Setting Prairie Sun

We walked down from Seventy Mile Butte in Grasslands National Park just before dusk, and saw this Sunflower beside the path, backlit by the setting sun.

I sometimes guess at the names of Prairie Sunflowers — there are so many! But I think this is the Common Annual Sunflower. By any name, it was a lovely flash of life on a dark, gravelly part of the trail.

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


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Yellow Flax in the Dry Southern Prairies

Yellow Flax near Grasslands National Park  ©SB
Yellow Flax. The first time I photographed this buttery yellow Prairie wildflower was the day we went hiking in Saskatchewan's Great Sandhills in the southwest of the province.

But that day was too bright, and the gentle yellow and coral colours of these flowers were burned away by the harsh sunlight.

This summer, at the side of a high range road connecting parts of the West Block of Grasslands National Park, near the edge of a bluff only a few miles north of the Canada/U.S. border, we once more found Yellow Flax. And this time, the day was softly overcast, with a giant lightbox for a sky, casting a warm glow over the land.

Vance, Jowsey et al in Wildflowers Across the Prairies say that the habitat for Yellow Flax is in "the dry upper reaches of the Southern Prairies, particularly along old trails and sandy disturbed places." And yes, that sums up our location.

Yellow Flax blossoms, in Southern Saskatchewan, Canada  © SB

Yellow Flax plant, with flowers.  ©SB

Although Yellow Flax can grow much taller, these plants along the exposed side of the hill were only about six inches high. Like many Prairie wildflowers, they were hidden behind grasses, invisible from the road. To see wildflowers is not only to walk the land, but at times, to crawl it...

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


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Prairie Smoke (Three-flowered Avens) at Grasslands

Three-flowered Avens: a native plant that looks ethereal after it blooms. But Prairie Smoke is not everyone's idea of loveliness, I learned one day after photographing these in Grasslands National Park.

"Someone asked me what I was doing, lying down," the man next to me said at breakfast at The Convent Inn in Val Marie. "I pointed at the Prairie Smoke, and he said, 'That weed???'"

I laughed, because I, too, had been low on ground, trying to capture some of the beauty of these Saskatchewan wildflowers. I love their white and crimson tassels, which make me think of wild-headed dolls.  

Prairie Smoke at late evening,
against the glow of the setting sun.  ©SB

Three-flowered Avens ©SB

Three-flowered Avens (Prairie Smoke) with dew at dawn
- and with mosquito  ©SB

Prairie Wildflower: Three-flowered Avens - Prairie Smoke 
Location: First: Grasslands National Park; Lower two: Val Marie Pasture.  Saskatchewan, Canada,  
Photo Date: First: June 25, 2015; Lower two: June 25, 2013. 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Prickly Pear Cactus flowers in Grasslands National Park

Apricot and yellow Prickly Pear Cactus flowers
at Grasslands National Park.  ©SB
We drove through the EcoTour road at Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan, Canada, and then off on gravel roads through other parts of the West Block of the park — and suddenly, in one of the driest spots, we found masses of Prickly Pear Cactus in full flower.

These crisp, delicate flowers contrast extremely with their green skins and prickles.

It's so lovely to see the dry land bloom!  

I've seen Prickly Pear Cactus in flower a few times before at Grasslands National Park, and each time managed to impale myself on their prickles.

(It's not that I'm clumsy, or that the prickles are generally difficult to avoid — but in trying to get low to the ground to photograph these flowers, I tend to rest my palm on the dirt, er, spike-studded earth.)

Prickly Pear Cactus blooming in a dry stretch of Grasslands National Park.  ©SB

Prickly Pear Cactus, from coral buds to yellow flower,
to pink aged petals.  ©SB

Prickly Pear Cactus. ©SB

Prickly Pear Cactus, with a green fly. ©SB

Prairie Wildflower: Prickly Pear Cactus
Location:  Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: June 23, 2015. 


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Prairie Crocus Flowers Near Regina, Saskatchewan

Early spring Prairie wildflower - Prairie Crocus © SB

My first photos of the year of Prairie Crocus flowers — and the season for these wildflowers is so very short, perhaps these will be my last.

Such delicate blooms, on such hardy little plants.

Delicate, but capable of surviving our winters and pushing their way up through straw and snow to spiders and sunshine.

Delicate, but the plants themselves are easily killed if the native prairie where they grow is disturbed.

Delicate, yes, but be careful around Prairie Crocuses... These early spring flowers attract early spring insects...

This lovely Prairie Crocus provides a meal to a little bug. ©SB
No, I don't know what this tiny bug is, nor am I going to guess... ©SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Crocus
Location:  Wascana Trails, Near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: April 10, 2015. 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Prairie Crocus in Flower at Wascana Trails

Prairie Crocus buds are thrusting through dried grass and mud along south-facing slopes of the Qu'Appelle Valley.

Today, I found a few at Wascana Trails, near Regina, SK.

My first trip earlier in the week yielded no purple flower sightings, but my guess is that lots more will appear over the next few days.

When I started walking down the trail, I saw only brown grasses. But then I noticed one mauve flower... And all around me, I started to see clusters of furry buds.

Walk carefully, if you're out looking for Prairie Crocuses.

The delicate stalks are easy to snap off with your feet!

New Prairie Crocus bud, almost ready to flower  © SB
Prairie Crocus shoots - tough to see at your feet!  ©SB
Prairie Crocus - starting to open  ©SB

Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Crocus
Location:  Wascana Trails, Near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: April 10, 2015. 


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.  


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