Monday, August 24, 2015

Prairie purple and gold

Prairie remnants are turning increasingly to gold as summer winds down, but I was looking for purple yesterday along the Cinder Path east of Derby --- two less prolific varieties of Blazing Star that for the most part wait until after their showier sister, Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya), has gone to seed before bursting into bloom.

This (top and below) is Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera), which as a rule prefers areas that are dryer and where the vegetation is sparser --- and a couple of the mini-habitats east of Derby are ideal for them.

Like their showier sisters, Rough Blazing Star blooms downward from the top of its sparsely foliated spike, bursting out in kind of raggedy fashion from tight buds.

Dotted Blazing Star (Liatris punctata) has more leaves, and thus appears bushier than its sister, but also prefers dryer environments where other vegetation is less competitive.

Here's how the show-off, Prairie Blazing Star, looked in photos dating from earlier August but taken in the same general area. Most of these colorful spikes now are browning as seed matures.

Here are a couple of the smaller yellows, both of which have been blooming for some time and will become less noticeable as the countryside turns to gold.

Patridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), abloom since early summer, is easily recognizable because of its ferny foliage.

And Long-Bracted Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens Polylepsis), also has foliage that appears to be slightly fringed.

There will be plenty of other golds and yellows to admire as autumn advances.

This is the year, too, when I'll develop the ability to name on sight the various types of goldenrod that just now are opening. Honest.

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