Sunday is Mother’s Day. I am sitting here trying to think of something related to Mother’s Day that I could blog about without repeating a blog post I have already done on past Mother’s Days. My wife is helping out in the floral department where she works this week because of the Mother’s Day “rush”, and that got me to thinking that I have taken several pictures of Nebraska wildflowers and have not used most of them in any kind of blog post. So, for Mother’s Day, here are some Nebraska wildflowers for you!
I have to post a disclaimer. I had several botany, plant taxonomy, and aquatic plants courses in college, so I am supposed to know something about Nebraska plants. But I am a fisheries biologist, not a plant taxonomist. I will venture my best guess on the identification of these flowers, but would appreciate anyone who wants to chime in and correct me if I am wrong!
For example, I know this is some type of aster. I took this picture on a frosty October morning near Halsey. My best guess is willowleaf aster, but I sure would not bet on that.
This one I know is a goldenrod. Our state flower is goldenrod, but I know that Nebraska has several species of goldenrod. I ain’t going to pretend that I know for sure which species this is, but my guess is that it is Canada goldenrod, but it could be THE goldenrod that is our state flower, Solidago gigantea, or late goldenrod. I like this picture because you can see a bumblebee and if you look close a wasp. Those insects were all over the goldenrod the day I took that picture at Ponca State Park (http://www.outdoornebraska.ne.gov/parks/guides/parksearch/showpark.asp?Area_No=143).
I am very sure this one is prairie gentian; took these pictures last July at Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area (SRA) at North Platte (http://www.outdoornebraska.ne.gov/parks/guides/parksearch/showpark.asp?Area_No=37).
I come from homesteader stock and growing up I knew these as “soap weeds”. I think the “native Americans” had a lot of uses for these plants including using the roots as soap, and the first “white folks” to come out to these parts learned that too–thus, “soap weeds”. I guess a lot of other folks, probably those from New York City, call them yucca. The summer a couple of years ago was a good one for soap weeds, I bet the abundance of precipitation had something to do with that. The Nebraska sandhills were covered with blooming soap weeds that year.
And this last one is one of my favorites, the purple prairie coneflower, also called “black Sampson” or even by the genus name Echinacea. This picture was taken on a 4th of July weekend near Valentine.
If you have an interest in Nebraska wildflowers I would highly recommend Field Guide to Wildflowers of Nebraska and the Great Plains by Jon Farrar, http://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-Wildflowers-Nebraska-Plains/dp/1609380711 . Jon recently retired from the Game & Parks Commission; he wrote for NEBRASKAland and has done a lot of great stuff over the years including the wildflower book!
I know this blog post is “cheesy”, but there are some pretty pictures of Nebraska wildflowers for Mother’s Day. Do not forget to do something to remember the mothers in your life this weekend. May I suggest that you get them outside! Take ’em fishing, turkey hunting, go for a picnic, look for some mushrooms, share some time with them enjoying our beautiful Nebraska outdoors.
Happy Mother’s Day!