Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Prairie Rose: Rosa Arkansana

Prairie Rose, hike to 70 Mile Butte, Grasslands NP © SB

Imagine a roses bush so small that it's dwarfed by sage, a prairie wildflower so hardy that it can grow in sand. That's the Prairie Rose that grows in Grasslands National Park. The flower is flat, a pale pink that fades to white, and the rose hips are bright red. This very low branching shrub dies back to the ground each fall. 

Prairie Rose hips © SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Rose (Rosa Arkansana) 
Location: Grasslands National Park, on the trail up to 70 Mile Butte (the first two pictures were taken beside the Western/Rustic Eagle Butte sign
Photo Date: July 27, 2011. 

Prairie Rose with Sage © SB 
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Many-Flowered Aster: Condie Nature Refuge

Many-Flowered Aster   © SB 
Late August: Many-Flowered Asters cluster tightly along on side of their curved stems, each white ray floret crowded into another, their centre disks fading from yellow to brown as they age. Each flower is less than half an inch across, but the resulting end-of-stem clusters on this prairie wildflower are vibrantly easy to see.  

Prairie Wildflower: Many-Flowered Aster (id Vance/Jowsey)
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan. 
Photo date: August 27, 2011. 

Many-Flowered Aster © SB 
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Silverleaf Psoralea: Deep Blue on Prairie Silver

Silverleaf psoralea in a tepee ring on a prairie butte © SB 
With brilliant (though tiny) deep blue flowers on silver leaves, Silverleaf psoralea instantly became my  favourite prairie wildflower on our July visit to Grasslands National Park. It also was a mystery, as the two prairie flower books I brought with me did not include it. (I've since upgraded my reference collection.)

The name was familiar, as a park guide had mentioned in during our visit in June — but it hadn't been in flower then. I wondered, how could this lovely, ever-present grasslands flower be missed? But authors of guides have to make selections, and Silverleaf psoralea must not be as common in the rest of Saskatchewan as it is in the southwestern dry prairie uplands, and so it was dropped. (Next time I visit the Grasslands, I'm taking Vance/Jowsey's Wildflowers Across the Prairies.)

The top picture shows this low shrub growing on a prairie butte within a tepee ring, its silvery leaves mounding above the grasses. A close-up, below, shows its pea-flowered shape. (This plant is called Silvery or Silver-Leaf Scurf Pea in the US.)  

Close-up of Silverleaf psoralea  © SB 
Silverleaf psoralea  © SB 


Prairie Wildflower: Silverleaf psoralea (silvery scurf pea)
Location: In Grasslands National Park, and on pasture/butte west of Val Marie, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Dates: July 27 & 28, 2011
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tansy: Tall Golden Button Flowers, Bumblebees

Tansy   © SB
Graceful stalks of Tansy wave in the wind along the alley beside my house.

As the fern-like fronds of this prairie wildflower bend and dip, the motion seems to attract red-striped bumble bees, drawn by the colour and smell. (It's a bitter green odour, none too pleasant. In Wildflowers Across the Prairies, Jowsey/Vance call it rank.)

Tansy plants are tall — taller than the three feet I've seen in flower books — and flowers form in composite buttons on the top in August.

Common Tansy,
with  bumblebee   © SB
Tansy was brought from Europe to North America as a medicinal herb — it's said to repel lice and fleas, among other things (Kershaw, Saskatchewan Wayside Flowers).

It adapted well and escaped cultivated gardens for ditches, hedgerows and broken land.

Historical trivia: "In the Middle Ages a posy of Tansies was thought to ward off the Black Death." (from Jennings, Prairie Beauty.)

For more of the pictures I took of these bees, see Tansy flowers with red-belted bumble bees on Latitude Drifts

Prairie Wildflower: Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Bee: Bombus rufocinctus? (Red-belted bumblebee?) For close-ups of the bumblebee, click to see my other blog, LatitudeDrifts. (I love these furry red bees!
Location: Alley, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: August 18, 2011

Common Tansy, with two bees   © SB 
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dock: Tall red-brown spires

Redwinged blackbird on dock at Reed Lake, SK © SB
This distinctive prairie wildflower with tall red-brown waving spikes is classified as a weed by the Canadian federal government and several US states. Parts of it are said to be toxic to poultry (Royer & Dickison) but redwinged blackbirds apparently have no problems living in or near it. 

Prairie Wildflower: Dock (Western?, above; Curly?, below)
Location: Above: Reed Lake, near Morse, Saskatchewan, Canada; below: Pasture near Val Marie,  Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: July 25, 2011 (with blackbird) and July 28, 2011, below.

Curly dock, in pasture   © SB 
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blue Lettuce: Grasslands National Park

Blue Lettuce with beetle, Grasslands National Park © SB
I love the name of this prairie wildflower — Blue Lettuce — and the concept that lettuce could, and should, be blue.

These weren't common while we in Grasslands National Park in late July. In fact, this is the only picture I took of Blue Lettuce, and I tried to take at least one picture of every single flower I saw.

Prairie Wildflower: Blue Lettuce (Lactuca pulchella)  
Location: Grasslands National Park
Date: July 27, 2011

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Canada Thistle — Seeds in Flight

Prairie wildflower in flight. 

A light puff of wind is all that's needed to lift individual seeds from the white globe of the Canada Thistle. 
Canada thistle seeds in flight © SB 


Prairie Wildflower: Canada Thistle
Location: Along Wascana Creek, Regina, Saskatchewan
Date: August 13, 2011
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Goat's Beard: Seed Globes

Goat's Beard. Regina, © SB 

The symmetry repeats in fractal ghost images of the elements of this Goat's Beard seed globe. 

Even the partial globe of this prairie wildflower has that same strange symmetry, the individual cups of its seed parachutes far more visible on this than on the full, packed seed head, their whirling parachutes pulling me into the seed centres, their open spun silk cups repeating... 

To me, Goat's Beard is far more beautiful as a huge white globe than when in yellow flower.  

Prairie Wildflower: Goat's Beard
Location: Along Wascana Creek, not far west of Albert Street in Regina, Saskatchewan. 
Date photo taken:  August 13, 2011.  

Partial seed globe - Goat's Beard.   © SB 

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coreopsis: Golden Tickseed

When we visited Grasslands National Park in late July, 2011, I saw only one of these prairie wildflowers.

This Coreopsis was growing alone, as pictured, by the side of the road near the Two Trees Trail access in the West Block, south of Val Marie.   

Coreopsis: Golden Tickseed © SB 


Close-up of Coreopsis: Golden Tickseed © SB


Prairie Wildflower: Common tickseed (Coreopsis tinctoria Nutt.)
Location: Grasslands National Park, near Two Trees Trail access
Photo Date: July 30, 2011

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gumbo Evening Primrose: Prairie Wildflower

Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada: Gumbo Evening Primrose is a low perennial prairie wildflower with a lovely — and elusive — flower. The flower opens white in the cool of the day and then deepens to darker shades of pink as it wilts with rising heat.  

White unfurling bud of Gumbo Evening Primrose,
Grasslands National Park  © SB

For more pictures, earlier in the season (fresher flowers!) see
Gumbo Evening Primrose at Grasslands National Park
The classic prairie flower reference, Budd's Flora, says this prairie flower opens early morning, which surprised me, given its name. However, that would explain why the white flower (top image) I tried to photograph late one evening stayed furled in a bud (even though I patiently walked circles around a black-tailed prairie dog town at Grasslands while I waited), as well as why the ones I saw in the afternoon were pink and dying.

This name is true prairie: gumbo is a local name for the clay soil where these wildflowers grow on dry hillsides or flats. I think of gumbo after the rain, when clunky clods of mud stick to shoes. Hardly the word to describe such a delicate bloom, although the plant itself is obviously hardy, with a thick, woody root (Budd's Flora).

Its scientific name is Oenothera caespitosa, and other names apparently include Rock Rose, Butte Primrose, Gumbo Lily and Tufted Evening Primrose (Jennings, Prairie Beauty, where it's listed under the Green tab, for white flowers — although based on my experience, it's easier to recognize if you look for something pink, as there may be far more wilted blooms than fresh). 

These photographs were all taken at the end of July along an easily accessible path near the north entrance to the West Block of Grasslands National Park, along the Ecotour Road. (And yes, I really did go back in the evening, hoping to see a bloom open wide, but that was not to be. Instead, all I found was one flower that had cast off its calyx, but was still in bud.)

Wilting bloom, Gumbo Evening Primrose © SB
Low cluster of Gumbo Evening Primrose
leaves and flower © SB
Spent flowers and buds, the more common version
(at least for me) of Gumbo Evening Primrose © SB
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Prairie Wildflower: Gumbo Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespiosa Nutt.)
Location: Grasslands National Park (along the edge of the ridge near the first Prairie Dog town)
Photo Date: July 26, 2011

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Common Silverweed: Creeping Yellow Flower

This low, creeping prairie wildflower is a variety of cinquefoil, and is also known as Potentilla anserina (Vance/Jowsey) or Argentina anserina (Kershaw). 

It spreads by runners, several of which can be seen in the lower and upper right. 

Common Silverweed, late July © SB 


Prairie Wildflower: Common Silverweed 
Location: Near Val Marie, Saskatchewan, Canada (just below the PFRA Val Marie reservoir.) 
Photo Date: July 31, 2011.   

Common Silverweed: Close-up of flower © SB
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