Now that summer has arrived and in celebration of pollinator month, we would like to share with you photos of spring flowers 2014.  This is a sample of some flowers we came across in our pastures this spring.  Feel free to drop us a note if you would like to stop by for a walk through the pastures in search of native flowers, grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees.  We manage cattle grazing to allow for as much diversity as possible.  Some of the flowers you see below were trampled, stomped and grazed by our herd over the past few weeks.  Some flowers have been safe behind our portable fences and allowed to produce more flowers for the future.  Cows prefer a diverse diet just like we do, they eat more than just grass, that is why we call them “pasture grazed” and not just “grass-fed”.

Tap a photo for larger view:

Prairie Violet (Viola pedatifida)

April 22, first flower noted of the year, some kind of Violet. Prairie Violet (Viola pedatifida) but since leaves are not dissected, this might be Downy blue violet (Viola sororia, perennial) or wild pansy (viola bicolor, annual).

Plainleaf Pussytoes (Antennaria parlinii)

May 3, Plainleaf Pussytoes (Antennaria parlinii). Kind of drab white but at this time of year we are anxious for any kind of flowers.

Narrowleaf Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum)

May 6 – Narrowleaf Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum). Edge of the flower is “crinkled” rather than smooth.

Ground Plum (Astragalus crassicarpus)

May 9, Ground Plum (Astragalus crassicarpus). Do an internet image search of this plant to check out the interesting “plum” seed pod that is formed.

White-eyed grass or Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre)

May 10, White-eyed grass or Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre). Not a grass, an iris.

Plains Wild Indigo (Baptisia bracteata)

May 11, Plains Wild Indigo (Baptisia bracteata). Our cows will not graze this plant any time of year. Note in the photo, on ground below the foliage you can see the dead leaves from the previous year growth. I am sure the pollinators appreciate this plant at this time of the year.

Narrowleaf Puccon cattle grazing in background

May 11, another angle of Narrowleaf Puccoon showing the “trumpet” like flowers. This plant is safe from grazing, there is a portable fence between the flower and the cattle in background.

Prairie Ragwort (Packera plattensis)

May 11, Prairie Ragwort (Packera plattensis).

Porcupine Grass (Stipa spartea)

May 28, Porcupine Grass (Stipa spartea). Not a flower but a native cool season grass found in our prairie. When the seed heads become mature and dry you can watch the awns expand and twist the seed head (self planting) by placing the seed heads on a wet paper towel.

Sulfur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)

June 9, Sulfur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta). A non-native plant but does not seem to cause a problem in our prairie at this time.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

June 9, Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Is this a weed? If pollinators utilize it we don’t mind. Diversity is important to us.

Pale Dogwood (Cornus amomum)

June 9, Pale Dogwood (Cornus amomum), a shrub. Our cattle will browse the leaves from this shrub most of the year. We do shred some of the larger patches but leave plenty of growth for our cattle to graze and rub on. Quail and other wildlife readily utilize this plant also.

Yellow Sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis)

June 9, Yellow Sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis). This is an early growing biennial plant our cattle enjoy. It was used as a manure crop when this area was first cropped in the early 1900s. When we see this plant we think “free nitrogen”, it is a prolific legume.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

June 9, Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). Another introduced legume but this one is an annual. Legumes are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil while operating at field temperature. This occurs through a symbiotic process with soil bacteria.

Prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)

June 9, Prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha). Again, not a flower but a showy grass. After flowering the seed head becomes compact and will stand upright well into winter.

 

Daisy or Rough Fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

June 9, Daisy or Rough Fleabane (Erigeron annuus). Though small, this flower will always catch your eye.

Plains Larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum)

June 15, Plains Larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum). These flowers receive night-flying moth pollinators.

Wooly Verbena (Verbena stricta)

June 19, Wooly Verbena (Verbena stricta). We, along with the pollinators, will enjoy this purple flower from June to September.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

June 25, Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Our cattle love this plant almost as much as the Monarch butterfly. Our cows will readily eat the leaves from this plant any time of the year. We leave plants ungrazed for seed production and butterfly use.

Wild Licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)

June 27, Wild Licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota). This is almost a woody plant, note the spiney seed pods on the right side of photo. Our cows love this plant and this plant loves our cattle.

Blackeyed-Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

June 27, Blackeyed-Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). Here is another eye catching flower in our prairie.

Thanks to my co-workers at NRCS, Ritch and Shaun for their help with plant identification.  Hope you have enjoyed these photos.  If you think we have misidentified a plant or have any other comments, please share your thoughts.

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