Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Broomweed: Tiny yellow flowers, spiky leaves

Close-up of minuscule Broomweed flowers   © SB
I've only seen Broomweed, a small, deep yellow prairie wildflower, once in Saskatchewan — which may say more about my powers of observation than its frequency here.

I recently came across a photo I took of that plant, at Grasslands National Park in 2011, and I'm glad I've since stumbled over (literally) and photographed Broomweed (with a macro lens) in southern Alberta.

Broomweed grows in grasslands and on eroded slopes, has long narrow leaves and stands 10 to 30 cm tall.

The plant on which the flowers here grew was about 20 cm from ground to top leaf — which may give some sense of scale for the flower clusters... (Very tiny.) Each floret, according to Royer/Dickinson in Plants of Alberta, is only about one mm across.

Also called Broom Snakeweed, this prairie plant is toxic, and apparently its bundled twigs — or entire dried plant — can, in fact, be used as a broom.

Prairie Wildflower: Broomweed (Broom Snakeweed, Gutierrezia sarothrae)   
Locations: Southern Alberta,  Canada.  
Photo Date: August 1, 2012.  


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cut-leaved anemone: downy white seed heads

By mid-summer, Cut-leaved Anemones in the Cypress Hill have gone to seed, leaving intriguing puffy globes along most roadsides and throughout the dry, high pastures that top the hills.

My best photos of the downy white seed heads of the Cut-leaved Anemones were taken at sunrise and sunset. Pale early light back-lit the seeds, while the golden light at end of day made them glow.
Cut-leaved Anemone. Copyright © Shelley Banks. All Rights Reserved.
Cut-leaved Anemone seed heads
at sunrise in the Cypress Hills  © SB
Cut-leaved Anemone. Copyright © Shelley Banks. All Rights Reserved.
Cut-leaved Anemone seeds blowing free
at sunset in the Cypress Hills 
© SB  

Prairie Wildflower: Cut-leaved Anemone (Windflower; Anemone multifida)  
Locations: Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada).  
Photo Dates: #1, August 1, 2012; #2, July 30, 2012.  


Monday, September 17, 2012

Western Wild Bergamot: Bee Balm, Monarda

Tall, single stalk of Western Wild Bergamot © SB
By mid-summer, south-facing slopes in the Cypress Hills area of Saskatchewan and Alberta are dotted with pink and purple clusters of Western Wild Bergamot.

This prairie wildflower, which blooms in July and August, also goes by the names of Bee Balm and Monarda.

A member of the mint family, Bergamot has the light scent of Earl Grey tea and has long been cultivated for perfumes.

Western Wild Bergamot also attracts insects and hummingbirds — and is difficult to resist if you are carrying a camera.

For those who can't find  Bergamot in the wild, specimens of this lovely plant are grown in the Royal Saskatchewan Museum's Native Plant Garden in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Western Wild Bergamot bloom, amid a cluster of flowers © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Western Wild Bergamot (Bee Balm, Monarda)  
Locations: #1, Royal Saskatchewan Museum's native plant garden, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; #2 Elkwater Lake, Alberta, at the edge of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (Alberta and Saskatchewan).
Photo Dates: #1, July 13, 2012; #2, July 29, 2012.  


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