Monday, February 25, 2013

Black-eyed Susan: Slivers of summer sunshine

The bright yellow florets of Black-eyed Susans remind me of slivers of summer sunshine — a welcome reminder that winter will end, the days grow longer and warmth and flowers come again.

Introduced as a garden plant, Black-eyed Susans can now be found growing wild along roadsides — and paths, which is where I found this one. (These were one of my mother's favourite prairie flowers, but I don't see them often anymore.)

After the bright yellow rays catch your eye, linger on the velvety brown disk florets at the centre of this Black-eyed Susan.

Black-eyed Susan, Regina.  photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved,
Black-eyed Susan, Regina.   © SB

Prairie Wildflower:  Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia serotina
Location: Along the path beside Wascana Creek, south of the Cresents area of Regina, Saskatchewan. 
Photo Date: July 4, 2012. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

Prairie Rose: low pink-flowered shrub

Prairie Rose: flower, bud, spent bloom. photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Prairie Rose: flower, bud, spent bloom.   © SB
The Prairie Rose, in bloom in southern Saskatchewan grasslands in July, is a vibrant pink to pale white wildflower that's really a shrub, with low woody branches that die off each fall.

As these wild roses age, their colours fade and somewhere between crimson bud and white petals lies a lovely streaked display of rosy shades.

Prairie Roses are small, but showy — and impossible to miss when these native plants are in bloom.

It's well worth the awkwardness of kneeling close beside them, or sprawling on the ground to get a picture.

Prairie Rose: photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Prairie Rose   © SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Rose (Rosa arkansana)
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Date: June 23, 2012.  


Monday, February 11, 2013

Nodding Onions: Fragile White Stars

Nodding Onions — wild flowers so small that when I first walked over these native plants, I completely missed them, and even when I came back and crouched beside this Nodding Onion, wasn't sure what I was seeing.

As delicate as Pink-flowered Onions, but far more pale, these nearly white Nodding Onions nestle almost invisibly in the mid-summer grass of a high Cypress Hills pasture.

Nodding Onion flower cluster: Photo  © SB; all rights reserved.
Nodding Onion flower cluster  © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum)
Location: Cypress Hills Inter-provincial Park (Alberta and Saskatchewan), Canada.
Photo Date: July 30, 2012.  


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Slender Coral Paintbrush of Western Meadows

Common Red Paintbrush, Cypress Hill Park: photo by Shelley Banks
Common Red Paintbrush, Cypress Hill Park © SB
In August, on the high plateau of the Cypress Hills, the Paintbrush bloom.

The Paintbrush is a native plant of alpine meadows, so I was startled to see it here, so close to the prairie... But the Cypress Hills, which span the southwest corner of Saskatchewan and the southeast tip of Alberta, are the highest point of land between Labrador and Banff, and many aspects of it are unusual.

These wildflowers, which I think are the Common Red Paintbrush, appear far more coral or salmon pink than any shade of red. But that's typical. Royer/Dickinson says they can also be crimson, or even yellow.

The showy display of the flower clusters are composed of colourful bracts, not petals. The true flowers are almost fully hidden within each, and are tiny, tube-shaped, and green.  (These are visible in the photo at right, if you look carefully.)

Prairie Wildflower: Common Red Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)
Location: Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park (Saskatchewan and Alberta), Canada.
Photo Date: August 1, 2012.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Blue Lettuce: Insect feeding station

I wonder what it is about Blue Lettuce that makes it so attractive to ants, flies and other little bugs?

A native plant of central and western North America, Blue Lettuce can grow up to 60 cm tall (Royer/Dickinson - Weeds). It's from the genus Lactuca; lac, meaning milk, refers to its white sap (Jennings).

And whether it's the sap or some other attractant, the bugs love it!

Blue lettuce, a feast for bugs.   © SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Blue Lettuce (Lactuca pulchella)
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina,  Canada.  
Photo Date: July 7, 2012.  


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