Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gaillardia Flower with Fritillary Butterfly

Butterflies and wildflowers — Fritillary on Gaillardia, in this case. Two of the best parts of a prairie summer. (Along with, of course, the heat that helps both thrive.)

This gold-toned Fritillary Butterfly slowly circled the crimson centre of the yellow Gaillardia, drawing food from its numerous disk florets.

I found these along the Ecotour Road through Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan last summer, when I stopped to take pictures of a mass of prairie wildflowers.

Lunchtime at Grasslands - find a wild flower, eat. ©SB

What is this: Gaillardia flower, with Fritillary Butterfly. 
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Dates: June 21, 2012.   


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Getting to Know Saskatchewan Lichens

The letter carrier arrived at the door today with my copy of (the new-to-me) Getting to Know Saskatchewan Lichens, by Bernard De Vries, published by Nature Saskatchewan. One glance, and I was hooked.

Golden Moonglow Lichen, on limestone rock. © SB 

I immediately dove into my photo catalogue, looking for lichens to ID. And this photo above, I believe, shows Golden Moonglow Lichen, which likes limestone rocks in sunny locations. (Given its lustrous white smoothness, I've no hesitation in leaping to label the rock above as limestone... Then again, a geologist, I'm not!)

I love learning the names of species — and even the fact that such species exist as Rosette Pixie Cup and Desert Firedot Lichen. Amazingly vivid and imaginative for these bright sparks of colour on Saskatchewan rocks, trees and soil.

This guide is available from Nature Saskatchewan; De Vries also has several online guides to Saskatchewan prairie and boreal lichens.

What is this: My latest guidebook — and a rock encrusted with what I think must be Golden Moonglow Lichen.
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Dates: July 28, 2011.   


Friday, March 15, 2013

Sticky Purple Geranium: Cypress Hills

Burst of glowing purple:
Sticky Geranium flower. © SB
More flowers of summer: Sticky purple geraniums, photographed last July in Saskatchewan's Cypress Hills.

(And the flowers, leaves and stems really are sticky, and covered with fine hairs, too.)

We found these in a small meadow by a wooded area near a stream. I think they were at the end of their bloom time, as few were bright and full.

Perhaps another year I'll be there earlier in the summer, and see more...

Till then, a warm glow of pink; memories of heat and sunshine.

A stalk of Sticky Geranium flowers, one of the few clusters we saw. © SB

Prairie Wildflower: Sticky Geranium 
Location: Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Dates: July 30, 2012.   


Monday, March 11, 2013

Wild Licorice: White flowers, spiny seeds

Wild Licorice flower: photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Wild Licorice   © SB
First lesson, in wildflowers: Not all are pretty, in a conventional garden sense.

Take Wild Licorice, for example.

This slender, sprawling bush has short-lived white flowers with a strong greenish cast.

Not my ideal for a dining room bouquet. (Not that I pick any wildflowers...)

Second lesson, this time in native plants:

Even insects may notice and prefer the seed pods. Like this Meadowhawk Dragonfly, below.

(And people may prefer the roots, which in the case of Wild Licorice, are said to have a sweet licorice flavour.)

Wild Licorice seeds: photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
Spiny Wild Licorice seed pods
with Meadowhawk Dragonfly 
© SB

Prairie Wildflower: Wild Licorice
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Dates: Flower, July 7, 2012; seeds, August 28, 2011.   


Monday, March 4, 2013

Smooth Blue Beardtongue, yellow flowers, butterfly

The colour range of prairie wildflowers delights me, from purple blue clusters of Smooth Blue Beardtongue to vibrant yellow composite rays of Colorado Rubberweed.

Add the wildness of grasses with the grace note of a passing Fritillary Butterfly, and you know you are in summer heaven. (This is not a formal garden; this is open space along the margins of a grasslands road.)

Slender Blue Beardtongue, Colorado rubberweed and Fritillary butterfly. Photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Smooth Blue Beardtongue, Colorado rubberweed
and Fritillary butterfly.   © SB 

Prairie Wildflower: Smooth Blue Beardtongue (Pentstamen nitidus), with Colorado Rubberweed and a Fritillary butterfly. 
Location: Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.  
Photo Date: June 21, 2012.  


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