Sunday, May 26, 2019

Plant Story--Adaptable Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium

little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium
little bluestem in the prairie
Talk about being ignored! Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium, grass family, Poaceae) is one of the most successful plants, certainly grasses, of North America and yet it gets little attention.

Little bluestem grows to be about 3 feet high, making it a midgrass in grassland terminology. It is a bunch grass, meaning it forms clumps which only slowly get larger.
little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium in winter
little bluestem fall colors
Its native range was very large. It is native to virtually all the lower 48 states and across southern Canada (link) and into southeastern Mexico.  It has been planted even more widely.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

American Spring Flowers

Rocky mountain columbine, Aquilegia coerulea
Rocky Mountain columbine, Aquilegia coerulea
I'm celebrating spring, despite recurring cold rainy days. Last week I posted pictures of classical spring garden flowers and intentionally only used those from Eurasia. Here is a celebration using only North American plants.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Spring Garden Flowers

primrose, Primula
common primrose, Primula vulgaris, early spring wildflower of Europe
This is a blog post of flowers. If March is the beginning of spring, then it has been a long cold spring, because we have had snowstorm after snowstorm here in northern Colorado. We ushered in May with days of snow and cold rain alternating with sunny days. Consequently, I find myself unusually drawn to all the plants now blooming.
snow May 9, 2019
Snow May 9, 2019; the picture does not show that it snowed all night nor how cold the low was.
So please, enjoy garden flowers with me.

Top: the common primrose, Primula vulgaris (primrose family, Primulaceae). Found all over Europe, it is one of the first spring wildflowers in meadows and pastures there. It is not particularly happy in Colorado (too hot, too dry) but doing ok in the shade in my wettest spot. ("Vulgaris" simply means "common" in Latin but you can see how its English form, "vulgar" could have evolved.)

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Plant Story--Glorious Purple Poppy Mallow, Callirhoƫ involucrata

purple poppy mallow, Callirhoe involucrata
wine cups, purple poppy mallow, Callirhoe involucrata
I call them wine cups, because it is an easy name to remember. They are also called purple poppy mallow, crimson-flowered poppy mallow, buffalo rose, and prairie poppy mallow. Purple poppy mallow seems to be the preferred common name, so I'll use it here.

There are nine species of CallirhoĆ«, poppy mallows, all native to North America (all in the United States, one species with a Mexican variety), making them North American endemics. Looking at the USDA's map (link), most are found in the south central U.S. Purple poppy mallows can be found in states from the east coast (Florida, Virginia) to west coast (Oregon) but probably because they were cultivated and escaped.