Prairie Flowers (partial)

Posted: May 29th, 2010 under photography, Plantlife.
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Near Meadow: Claspleaf Coneflower and Lemon Horsemint

Our prairie restoration project, though small, still encompasses several micro-habitats–deeper and shallower soils, moister and dryer areas,  different uses of the land before we got it that changed what remnant seeds were there, what could come back.   The Near Meadow has several just in a couple of acres, and the plants show it.  Claspleaf Coneflower makes a golden streak down the wetter soil of the secondary drainage.  It will grow out of shallow water.

Dracopis amplexicaulis (formerly Rudbeckia amplexicaulis)

In a wet spring/summer, it continues blooming longer, but this year–with no significant rain in over two months–it’s about done.   The other dominant blooming in the Near Meadow at the moment is Lemon Horsemint, which prefers dryer soils and is found even in dryer soils than this:

Monarda citriodora

Along the far edge of the Near Meadow,  a few plants of Goldenwave, Coreopsis tinctoria, grow next to paler specimens of Lemon Horsemint:

Intensely yellow Goldenwave forms masses along railway embankments and roadsides and is found in less abundance where temporary water has dried but left the soil a little wetter and there’s good drainage.

We have it in the dry woods swale most years. This year it’s already fading up there, as it’s too dry.

Gaillardia (Firewheel, Indian Blanket) tolerates dry soils of several types and handles heat well.   In wetter summers, it flowers through the summer, but this year it’s already overhalfway to seed.  Still, there’s plenty of color:

Gaillardia pulchella and Monarda citriodora

Gaillardia can form a solid blanket of its own, but looks particularly good with other late-spring/early summer forbs are mixed in–like the purple/lavender Lemon Horsemint, but also (which we don’t have) Mealy Blue Sage,  the various coneflowers, etc.

Also drought-tolerant, the coneflowers–we have two, the Mexican Hat, Ratibida columnifera (bicolored) and Ratibida peduncularis (yellow)–grow on the dryer soils, both thin and deep.   Both are rather leggy, open plants topped with their flowers:

Ratibida columnifera

Ratibida peduncularis

Nearer ground level than any of these is the Prairie Bluet, which forms low mounds of tiny pale-lavender-pink four-petaled flowers.

Stenaria nigricans var. nigricans (formerly Hedyotis nigricans)

These tiny flowers are a favorite nectar source for small butterflies such as Gray Hairstreak, Reakirt’s Blue, and others.    Larger butterflies prefer the larger flowers such as Lemon Horsemint and Basketflower.

1 Comment »

  • Comment by Martin LaBar — June 1, 2010 @ 6:30 am



    From all of us, thanks for trying to restore the original prairie.

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