Saturday, September 24, 2011

Red Samphire: Fleshy Marsh Fingers

Reaching towards you from the dark lagoon... © SB 

From a distance, these segmented plants look like bright pink or red strips of shag carpet along dry marshes and sloughs. Close-up, these prairie wildflowers look like vibrant fleshy fingers.

Apparently they flower in late July and August — a factiod that likely falls into the "but who can tell???" category, because as Vance/Jowsey explain it, the flowers are minuscule and inside a scale-like calyx that's sunk into the succulent red stem.

Low red carpets in a dried slough. © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Red Samphire (Salicornia rubra A. Nels.)   
Location:  A dry slough in the Qu'Appelle Valley, somewhere east of Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, west of Regina, Saskatchewan.  
Photo Date: September 24, 2011 — a wonderfully unseasonable hot (33C!) day. 


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Yellow Evening Primrose

Yellow Evening Primrose © SB 

These yellow evening primroses were growing this summer along the edges of Boggy Creek at the Condie Nature Refuge.

This prairie wildflower is biennial, with a rosette of leaves forming the first year, and a tall leafy stem the second. (Jennings). The bright yellow flowers of this primrose apparently open in the evening and fade during the morning. These pictures were taken late morning, so they have some staying power...

Prairie Wildflower: Yellow Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, about 12 km north of Regina, Saskatchewan.
Photo Dates: August 27, 2011 (above); Sept. 3, 2011 (below).

Yellow evening primrose  © SB 


Mystery Prairie Wildflowers from Saskatchewan

Eriogonum flavum, prairie flower. 
aka Yellow Umbrellaplant 
- even if it's not yellow! © SB 
Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada: I am looking for a comprehensive, easy-to-use source for identifying tallgrass prairie wildflowers in and around Grasslands NP.

I own a couple of flower books, and I've borrowed a few from the library.

So far, however, I am a loss to identify several of the wildflowers I've photographed this summer.

UPDATE: Mystery solved! This flower is an Eriogonum flavum, or Yellow Umbrellaplant

The plant at right, with close-up below, for example. The flower tops a stalk that's about three or four inches long, rising without leaves from the woolly leaves at its base. It looks like a composite, with each floret bell-shaped... (What may look like flat petals in the close-up below are tubes... This flower is very small — there is more detail in that photo than I noticed at the time.)

It wasn't uncommon, and I have several shots of what I think is a similar plant. Locations: Dry, high buttes in the Grasslands.

I've yet to see a picture of anything I recognize as being close to this plant, so if you're reading this and recognize it, please let me know!

I have more flower books on order from the library and elsewhere. (Once I have a chance to review them, I'll list some of the ones I found helpful here.)

Perhaps one of the new titles will cover everything I saw in bloom on my two flower (photo) collecting trips to the Grasslands in a simple, elegant way. I remain hopeful...

Close-up of Eriogonum flavum,
© SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Yellow Umbrellaplant, (Eriogonum flavum)
Location: Grasslands National Park, and on butte near Val Marie
Photo Date: July 27, 2011. 


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Toadflax: Butter and Eggs

Toadflax     © SB 

Toadflax, with its bright yellow and orange flowers, was apparently introduced to North America as a garden plant. (Vance/Jowsey) This perennial prairie wildflower, also called Linaria or Butter and Eggs, is said to be a common weed in abandoned gardens, as well as ditches and roadsides.

While butter and eggs represent the colours, there are several theories for its strange name, Toadflax. In Prairie Beauty, Jennings explains that in early English, "toad" meant "false" or "useless" — so perhaps the name derives from the similarity of the leaves to Flax. Or, he continues, perhaps the flower looked like a toad's mouth to some.

Its uses? Jennings says among other things, it was used in early Europe to treat eye infections, and boiled in milk to make a poison for flies.

Prairie Wildflower: Toadflax or Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris) 
Location: Along roadside in Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area, Saskatchewan.  
Photo Date:  September 17, 2011.

Toadflax, showing slender leaves 
and end of season flowers   © SB 


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Purple Fleabane: End of Season

Purple Fleabane (Philadelphia Fleabane...) 


This small prairie wildflower, with its hundreds of ray (pale purple) and disk (yellow) florets, waved in the wind when I tried to photograph it. Fleabanes flower from June through August, so this sighting in mid-September was an indication of how odd our summer has been. (It was blazing hot in mid-September, too — close to 32 C the day I took this.)

And yes, there are several kinds of Fleabanes. And no, I don't know what this one is. Smooth Fleabane, I'd say by the photographs, but there is the issue of that very hairy, unsmooth background leaf — which perhaps belongs to an entirely different plant. So, perhaps more likely, Philadephia Fleabane...

Prairie Wildflower: Fleabane (Philadelphia Fleabane, Erigeron phildelphicus?)
Location: Qu'Appelle Valley (Crow's Nest Ecology Preserve), Saskatchewan.
Photo Date: September 11, 2011.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Water Smartweed: A Sea of Pink

Water Smartweed  in a ditch, roadside west of Val Marie © SB 

Close-up of
Marsh Smartweed  
© SB
When we visited southwestern Saskatchewan in late July, the sloughs and ditches had turned rose-pink with Water Smartweed.

These low-looking prairie wildflowers appeared to float on the water, with stems rising to a uniform flowering mass above.

Vance/Jowsey's Wildflowers indicates that there are several varieties of Smartweed, including:

  • Water Smartweed, which fills the sloughs, and 
  • Marsh Smartweed, which tends to have stronger stems and grow taller on drier, slightly marshy terrain. 

Marsh Smartweed flower stalk (with insect) © SB 

Prairie Wildflowers:  Water Smartweed (Polygonum amphibium L.) and Marsh Smartweed (P. coccineum Muhl.)
Locations: Water Smartweed: Around Val Marie, Saskatchewan; Marsh Smartweed: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan. 
Photo Dates: Water Smartweed: July 28, 2011; Marsh Smartweed: August 28, 2011. 

Mass of Water Smartweed   © SB 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blazingstar: Rose and purple flowers

Dotted Blazingstar in Grasslands National Park © SB

From what I've read, this prairie wildflower is likely to be Dotted Blazingstar.

I'd love to get a better image, but for that, I'd need to find plants with a bigger display of blossoms, so for now, I will work with what I've got.

Below, an overview field shot that somewhat shows the stalks... (Note that this was taken late in the season, past the height of flowering, and so most of the purple dots are spent blooms.)
Blazingstar in prairie grasses © SB 

And then, to make up for the lack of excitement in that picture, the final image shows a butterfly on a Blazingstar floret.

Butterfly on Blazingstar © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Dotted Blazingstar (Liatris punctata) ?
Locations: Pink flower - Grasslands National Park; Purplish flower and field image - Hidden Valley Nature Refuge, near Regina.
Photo Dates: Grasslands - July 27, 2011; Hidden Valley - September 5, 2011.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Canada Thistle: Butterfly, fly and bumblebee

Full house at Thistle Diner: The yellow butterfly 
sees the bumblebee and slowly withdraws. 

Butterfly on Prairie Wildflower.

The sequel to this picture — with the butterfly's proboscis fully recoiled, as she readies to fly away — is posted on LatitudeDrifts.

Is it just me, or does this butterfly look ever-so-slightly apprehensive? 

Prairie Wildflower: Canada Thistle, with yellow butterfly, fly and bumblebee
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo Date: September 3, 2011


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