Thursday, July 28, 2016

May to June on the Prairie

If the prairie were a person, early June would be tweenhood. There are delicate blooms and fresh greens on low growth, as in May -- but there are new elements, too, elements that communicate the beginnings of a more seasoned reception to the world.

The prairie dock is still bright green, but it's more sandpapery, more enormous, and less fuzzy than its cute toddler self.

sweet fuzzy toddler prairie dock

Tweenaged prairie dock

The wild hyacinth and shooting star are gone; in their place, pale beardstongue and prairie rose, among others, fulfill the role of graceful plants low to the ground.
Shooting star and hyacinth fields in May
Prairie rose
Pale Beardstongue

The earlier plants aren't totally gone, of course. Here's a shooting star in May and one in June, after it's gone to seed. To an untrained eye like mine, they look like different plants, though the shape of the cluster of blooms lends a hint to their kinship.

Shooting star, May
Shooting star, June

Tougher-stalked, higher blooms abound--coneflowers, false quinine.

The wild white indigo has unfolded its pea-family leaves extravagantly, leaving no indication of its former strong resemblance to asparagus. Blossoms have started, too.
Wild white indigo in May
Wild white indigo in June

The first blooms - June

Black-eyed susans, indian plantain, and tall compass plant blooms are making themselves known.

black-eyed susan
Indian plantain
Compass plant

Rattlesnake masters' distinctive leaves were visible in here come their buds, in June.

Rattlesnake master, May
Rattlesnake master bud, June

There are also sprays of tiny blooms this month: pale clouds of bedstraw, scurfy pea, and baby budding leadplant. There are milkweed (common and butterfly) and prairie phlox, lots of spiderwort and false sunflower, and so much more. All props go to Schulenberg Prairie in Morton Arboretum, an incredible place. Many conservative plants--rare plants that were once numerous before we paved and grazed every square mile of the Midwest, but that cannot survive in disturbed areas--reside there.

The June photos are from a guided walk with Cindy Crosby at Morton Arboretum. I love these walks, as I learn so much more, and so much faster, than I would going on my own and looking up each of these blooms. I in fact have a folder full unidentified-plant photos from each unaccompanied visit. I look forward to the day I can skim through and add names to each, wondering to myself how I ever could have not known these old friends.

Speaking of, can anyone identify this May flower?

Update: Mark in the comment below as well as Spiderwort on Twitter have kindly identified this plant as white blue-eyed grass. Thanks, guys!

1 comment:

  1. The last plant is White Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium albidum. Despite the common name it is not a grass, but a member of the Iris family.