Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rabbitbrush: twisted, yellow-flowered shrub

Rabbitbrush, for me, fits firmly into the "what is that?" category of drought-resistant prairie plants.

Although its bright yellow flowers are attractive up-close (very close), I first saw this native plant before its late summer/fall bloom. It was gnarled and twisted, with a thick woody stem like a tree on a desert. Which I guess isn't far from what Rabbitbrush is: a stunted, dry-land shrub.

Rabbitbrush rising from rock.  Photo © Shelley Banks
Rabbitbrush rising from rock.   © SB
To explain the scale of the photograph above, which was taken at Grasslands National Park: Rabbitbrush grows up to about two feet high, says Vance/Jowsey, so what might look like a large hill, is only a ripple of rock.

A clue to the height of the two Rabbitbrush shrubs is given by the yellow flower at back left: Curlycup Gumweed, another plant that thrives on the dry prairies.

Rabbitbrush in flower.  Photo © Shelley Banks
Rabbitbrush in flower on the side of a butte. © SB
Even in full flower, however, Rabbitbrush is unikely to win any beauty contests against Prairie Roses or even the Prickly Pear Cactus.

Then again, the picture above was taken very late in the season, with more dried than fresh blooms, and these plants still cast a pale haze of colour across the slopes of this butte, emerging from rough prairie pasture.

It would be interesting to get closer mid-season, and with a macro lens see what each individual flower might reveal, to study its fine, hairy leaves and gnarled woolly stem. 

Prairie Wildflower: Rabbitbrush: in profile, and in flower.  
Location: Grasslands National Park and badlands near Avonlea. Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: June 23 and September 29, 2012.  


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