Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saskatchewan's Western Red Lily

Next spring, I'll find and photograph Western Red Lilies while flame-red blossoms crown their stems.

These prairie wildflowers grow in meadows and the woods. They bloom in June. But in June, I'm tick-avoidant, staying far from places where wood ticks lurk on leaves and in long grasses, not straying to wild places. (I am a coward, not for fear of Lyme disease, but because I don't like feeling their dry arachnid claws, crawling, crawling, up my skin...)

Maybe I need cultivated lawns where these native plants — Saskatchewan's floral emblem — can thrive... Government House, perhaps?  

Till then, this faded dream of flowers, one last lingering lily, dying in the sun:

Prairie Wild
flower: Western Red Lily (Wood Lily)
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: June 30, 2012.  


Friday, July 27, 2012

White Everlasting Flowers: Pussytoes

White Everlasting flowers dotted the lower slopes of 70 Mile Butte at Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan in June.

The guide who first showed me these native plants called them Pussytoes, but whether that's in any way a technical name, I don't know. It is, however, an apt description for these bundles of white wildflowers that surge up through the grasses like little kittens' paws.

Everlasting flowers are exactly what I'd expect in the grasslands: spiky, dry, enduring...

That's a description, too, of the prickly pear cactus that grows here, though not of the cactus's lush, soft flowers.

In fact, many prairie wildflowers are wildly luxurious: Prickly roses, Blazingstars, and the Gumbo Evening Primrose.

Everlasting: white pussytoes   © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Everlasting - Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta? Antennaria aprica?)
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: June 23, 2012.  


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Strawberry Blite: Red berry flowers

Stalk of Strawberry Blite flowers   © SB
I was surprised to read that these glossy red clusters are the ripening flowers, not fruits, of Strawberry Blight, a prairie wildflower I photographed at a native plant garden in Regina, Saskatchewan.

The Strawberry Blite flowers form in clusters where each leaf meets the stalk. They begin minuscule and green, with five sepals and no petals. As the sepals mature, the clusters turn red and enlarge to resemble berries.

(Raspberries, I'd say, but the experts — including Vance/Jowsey, source of that info above  see them instead as strawberries.)

These plants are members of the very large Goosefoot family. (The weed or pseudocereal Lambsquarters is related, though far from as brightly coloured.) 

The berry-like clusters of Strawberry Blite flowers are, in fact, edible, though very bland, according to the webpage for the Royal Saskatchewan Museum's Native Plant Garden.

Habitat for Strawberry Blite: Waste places, garden edges and moist roadsides across the continent, though so far, I've only seen these wildflowers in this Regina native plant garden.

Strawberry Blight and purple Asters ©  SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Strawberry Blite (Chenopodium capitatum)
Location: Native Plant Garden, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: July 10, 2012.  


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Prairie Sunflowers Along Prairie Roads

Prairie Sunflower © SB
One treat of summer is finding roads lined with prairie sunflowers — on the shoulders, in the ditches, at the edges of the fields.

A few days ago, I drove along a Saskatchewan township road that began with scattered yellow, blue and pink wildflowers and then after cresting a slight rise, became lined with bright yellow prairie sunflowers. 

Not high; no tunnel. These annuals grow only one to three feet tall. Simply a glow on every side.

Summer is here. 

Prairie Sunflowers following the sun. © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Sunflower 
Location: South-east of Regina, along Township Road 102, Saskatchewan 
Photo Date: July 23, 2012


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Scarlet Mallow at Grasslands Park

Another look at Scarlet Mallow, a native prairie plant.

In late June, these orange wildflowers were just coming into bloom at Grasslands National Park, in southwestern Saskatchewan. 

Scarlet Mallow grows singly or in clusters along roadsides and other disturbed places... 

Or so Prairie Beauty says, which would perhaps explain why so these low-growing perennials were matted so densely around the lookout point beside the second black-tailed prairie dog colony.

Scarlet Mallow at GNP   © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Scarlet Mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea)
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: June 26, 2012.  


Monday, July 23, 2012

Creeping Bellflower: Pretty Purple Weed

When I first saw bellflowers along the path beside Regina's Wascana Creek, I thought these purple flowers must have escaped from gardens. And perhaps they did, although that might have been a long time ago. 

Campanula rapunculoides, or Creeping Bellflower, is officially classified as a weed in Albert and Manitoba, though apparently not in Saskatchewan. Royer and Dickinson (Weeds of Northern US and Canada) say it's a perennial introduced from Asia and Europe as a garden flower. Shade-tolerant, it takes moisture and nutrients that other plants need and can out-compete turf. 

(When it comes to prairie weeds, I don't think I'd mind these on my lawn, instead of the plantains and dandelions I'm currently trying to dig out of the grass...)

Delicate stalks of purple bells: Creeping Bellflower © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)
Location: Along Wascana Creek, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: July 9, 2012.  


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pink-Flowered Onion: tiny prairie stars

Clusters of pink stars crowd the tops of Pink-flowered onions, a prairie wildflower that looks like a bouquet of miniature lilies. 

This native Saskatchewan plant grows on dry prairie meadows and hillsides — and in wildflower gardens, where I took these photographs. It's closely related to the Nodding Onion (and yes, I know  one of these flowers does show a bit of that characteristic crooked neck at the top of the stem). 

Pink stars of Allium stellatum   © SB
A flower head with slight bend to the stem   © SB 

Upright bouquets of tiny lilies: Pink-flowered onion  © SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Pink-flowered onion (Allium stellatum)
Location: Native Plant Garden, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: July 18 and 19, 2012.  


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rhombic-leaved sunflower: Saskatchewan flower

sunflower © SB
What could say summer more than a sunflower?

This bright yellow prairie wildflower from Saskatchewan is called a Rhombic-leaved sunflower, in reference to the even sides and oblique diamond shape of the leaves.

These flowers grow naturally in fields and along roadsides, and Vance/Jowsey says they are more common in dry areas in light soils than other prairie sunflowers.

I took these photographs in the garden of native prairie plants at Regina's Royal Saskatchewan Museum last week.  

The Museum has a webpage on this garden, What's in Bloom, with more information about the native flowers and grasses that grow there. (The garden is tended by the Museum and Nature Regina.)

This photograph makes me happy! Summer is here! © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Rhombic-leaved sunflower (Helianthus laetiflorus var. subrhomboideus)
Location: Native Plant Garden, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: July 13, 2012.  


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gumbo Evening Primrose at Grasslands Park

Gumbo Evening Primrose   © SB
Gumbo Evening Primrose — a strange name for a lovely (and mysterious) white and pink prairie wildflower.

The first time I saw Gumbo Evening Primrose, last summer at Saskatchewan's Grasslands National Park, it was late evening and the spent flowers had slackened to pale pink, then brighter rose.

They looked nothing like the picture of Oenothera caespitosa (the botanical name for Gumbo Evening Primrose) in my widflower books! 

In the books, the blooms were white and brilliant  but, search my little corner of the park as I did, I found no fresh white flowers that led me to make any connection to those illustrations. 

Nor, in my books, did I find anything that looked like my faded pink petals. *

Of course, I was looking for these prairie wildflowers at the wrong time of day... 

A line of Gumbo Evening Primrose plants, with pink flowers
The same line of Gumbo Evening Primrose plants,
with white flowers. (Pink = afternoon; white = morning) 
This summer, I tried a different strategy, and at 6 a.m., not long after sunrise on a late June day in Grasslands National Park, I found and photographed the Gumbo Evening Primrose shown here.

And as for the name, Gumbo refers to the kind of clay soil they grow in; Primrose, because that's their family, and Evening, just to be confusing... (The fresh flowers appear at the beginning, not  at the end of day.) 

Brilliant crisp white flowers, with rosy spent blooms © SB
The extreme contrast between new and old
Gumbo Evening Primrose flowers  
© SB 

I later found Vance/Jowsey, often mentioned here, and yes, that excellent guide to wildflowers of the prairies and northern plains clearly shows both the new and old flowers, in white and pink. 

And I was not alone in my bafflement; this week, I received an e-mail from a photographer who, like me, had found them late in the day  and found little that resembled their pictures in their wildflower guides. 

Prairie Wildflower: Gumbo Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: 6:15 a.m., June 24, 2012. (Distant field shots, afternoon of June 21, 2012, and morning of June 24, 2012) 


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Prairie Coneflowers: Gold in July grasses

Prairie Coneflowers now dot fields and grasslands in Saskatchewan.

My favourite prairie flower book (Vance/Jowsey) says that these wildflowers bloom from July through September. Early blooms offers a new way of looking at these flowers.

Prairie Coneflower   © SB

Instead of focussing on the ray florets (aka petals), look closely at the newly opening yellow and purplish-brown disk florets around the centre column. (Yes, there is a bug in there, too.)

Close-up of coneflower disk florets  © SB 
Patches of Prairie Coneflowers at Grasslands
National Park (near 70-Mile Butte) 
© SB

Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Coneflower
Location: #1 and #2, Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, SK; #3, Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: #1, 2: July 7, 2012; #3: July 27, 2011.  


Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Thistles in Bloom

The prairie thistles are among the wildflowers blooming at Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan.

To me, there is a fresh simplicity to the clusters of pink florets that rise above the twisted, prickly leaves of these wildflowers, balanced by the clean green and white lines of the base of the flower head. But this won't last long... 

Roadside thistle, Grasslands 

Prairie Wildflower: Thistle (I'm not sure what kind, but from the colour, structure and size, I would guess it's a Flodman Thistle, often simply called a Prairie Thistle.)
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: June 24, 2012


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Scarlet Guara Redux

Scarlet Gaura © SB
When I posted the pictures I took last year of Scarlet Guara at Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, I said I wanted to go back and try these prairie wildflowers again.

A couple of weeks ago, I had that chance.

These two pictures show different aspects of this delicate prairie wildflower.

Both photographs are away from the clutter, one in the light and one in the dark.

These images required a different approach from me, too...

For the first, I was crouched in the dirt, with the scarlet guara just below eye level.

For the second, I was half-lying in the ditch below the scarlet guara flowers — a position that enabled me to highlight their stalks against the sky. (And one that I'm grateful no one saw me try to stand up from...)

Photography. A dirty business.

Scarlet Guara  © SB  

Prairie Wildflower:  Scarlet Gaura or Scarlet Beeblossom, or Butterflyweed (Gaura coccinea or Oenothera suffrutescens) 
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: June 22 and 24, 2012. 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Prickly Pear Cactus in Bloom at Grasslands

Cactus needles, longer than the bud.© SB
Hidden in grass and leaves, the prickly pear cactus on 70-Mile Butte in Saskatchewan are in bloom, their yellow, apricot and gold flowers and buds improbably, lusciously soft against severe long spikes.

I've never seen cactus flowering before, and it was a delight to see these at my feet as I climbed to the top of this butte in Grasslands National Park.

I was in the park for a photo workshop, and it will take me many more to learn how to capture their delicate, vibrant colours and elegant structure.

For now, a simple taste of this strange glory.

Full yellow Prickly Pear Cactus flower © SB
Three in a row in straw, dwarfing their cactus. © SB
Insect cafe  © SB
Prickly Pear Cactus flower © SB


Prairie Wildflower:  Prickly Pear Cactus  
Location: 70-Mile Butte, Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada

Photo Date: June 23, 2012


Monday, July 2, 2012

Prairie Everlasting: Antennaria campestris

Prairie everlasting © SB
Crisp, creamy Prairie Everlasting flowers are tiny, with dense, branched clusters of flowers and bracts less than an inch across.

It's no surprise, then, that the first time I walked through this area, I walked right past these prairie wildflowers. (No surprise to me, at least...)

Not only am I slightly visually challenged, but I was looking for large, showy wildflowers — Gaillardia or Prairie Roses.

And these dry, low-growing florets were almost hidden in the dried grasses at the edge of the path

Wildflowers Across the Prairies says there are about a dozen different kinds of everlasting/Antennaria in this area. 

I've seen only one other kind so far, a kind of Pussy toes at Grasslands National Park. 


Prairie Wildflower:  Prairie Everlasting (Antennaria campestris
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, north of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: July 1, 2012


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sainfoin: Pink and healthy hay

Close-up of Sainfoin flower spike
Near Regina, Saskatchewan: Tall pink roadside prairie wildflowers caught my attention this weekend, so I snapped a few shots, then looked up this plant. This plant with lovely pink flowers is Sainfoin, which sounded as if it was French, and should mean something...

(Ta-da! Google Translator says sain foin = healthy hay.)

And yes, Sainfoin was introduced from Europe as a forage crop, one that's apparently good for grass and hay-eating creatures to munch.

Sainfoin is a legume, with vetch-like leaves and spikes of pea-blossom-shaped flowers. And it has lovely pink (light, bright and lavender) flowers, striped with reddish-purple.

Wildflowers across the Prairies says it's usually found in uncultivated fields or field margins, and may spread to ditches.

These plants were near old (abandoned?) farm buildings. at the edge of a marsh.  

Tall upright stalks of Sainfoin, blowing in the wind. 

Prairie Wildflower: Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciafolia) 
Location: Grid road north of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: July 1, 2012

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