Follow by Email

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rare Columbines in Bloom!

Three petite columbines with restricted home ranges are currently in bloom on the Berry Prairie.

Rocky Mountain columbine (Aquilegia saximontana) has the largest flowers of the three, beautiful deep blue, and about an inch and a half across, though the entire plant is barely six inches tall. Rocky Mountain columbine is an alpine and subalpine species, found in the wild in only a few counties of north-central Colorado.  Read an earlier post about Rocky Mountain columbine here.

Rocky Mountain columbine (Aquilegia saximontana)

Equally blue, but smaller, is Jones’ columbine (Aquilegia jonesii). The smallest of all columbines, Jones’ columbine is found on alpine and subalpine ridges and talus from southern Alberta to northern Wyoming, including the Bighorn Mountains.

Jones’ columbine (Aquilegia jonesii)

Besides the size difference (which isn’t great!), these two blue columbines can be distinguished on the Berry Prairie by the shape of their floral spurs. (In the wild, of course, you would never find these two growing together.) Jones’ columbine has short, straight spurs, while those of Rocky Mountain columbine are curved (“hooked” is the botanic term).  Learn more about spurs here!

Hooked spurs is an unusual trait among columbines, but is shared by the third of our flowering columbines—Laramie columbine (Aquilegia laramiensis). This species is endemic to the Laramie Range of eastern Wyoming, where it grows in cracks and crevices of exposed granite.  Read an earlier post that features the Laramie columbine.

Laramie columbine (Aquilegia laramiensis)

Stay tuned for more updates on flowering plants on the Berry Prairie this summer!

Written by Dorothy Tuthill, UW Biodiversity Institute

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hustlin' and Bustlin'

The Berry Prairie is alive with color!  Spring has sprung, hooray hooray!  The redesigned roof looks great after it's second winter, with loads of plants popping leaves, sprouts, flower buds and flowers, and we're excited to see what the summer brings.  Plants seem to be hustling to flower, ready to present their flowers, pollen and nectar to the world and reproduce.  And there are lots of pollinators about, willing to oblige them!

Here's a photo list of the species currently in bloom.

First and foremost, this display of what is normally a diminutive flower is dazzling.  Fewseed Draba, always one of the first to bloom in the spring, is putting on quite the show.  Bees and flies were buzzing all over these clumps.

This pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens) is the only one on the roof currently in bloom.  These gems are one of the hardiest and pollinator-friendly flowers of early spring.

Prairie smoke, oh how I love prairie smoke (Geum triflorum).  First the pink nodding flowers with a small entry way for burly bumble bees to work their way into.  Then the gray, fuzzy, feather seedheads of summer.  Check out this mini-meadow of prairie smoke - and those are just a few on the roof!

Devil's Gate Twinpod is another staple on the Berry Prairie - it's a reliable early spring bloomer with understated white flowers.

Sky Pilots (Polemonium viscosum) stand out in a crowd, check out this wonderful, rich purple color and fun textured leaves!

Last but not least is the Hooker's Easter Daisy (Townsendia hookeri) - a little late to the party, but welcomed nonetheless.

Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Winter Blossom

Can you believe that in the middle of February in Laramie, Wyoming - elevation 7,200', latitude 41 degrees N, and over 1,000 miles to the nearest ocean - we have a flower in bloom on the green roof?


It's true!  The Sharpleaf Twinpod (Physaria acutafolia) has one brave and lonesome flower on.  It's a rather homely looking flower isn't it?  But you might be a bit shabby looking too if you had to bare yourself to the cold world on February 18!

This sets the record for earliest flower found on the Berry Prairie since 2012 - previous record is from last year - the Devil's Gate Twinpod bloomed on March 23; prior to that in 2012, the Fewseed Draba bloomed on March 30. 

Any guesses as to why this plant would bloom so early?  Who's out to pollinate it this time of year?  What triggers such an early bloom?

Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Summer Highlights

The Berry Prairie has been ROCKING this summer.  Apologies for the lack of posting (the author just returned from maternity leave), but you gotta see what it's been doing these past couple of months.  Below are a few overview photos, as well as close-ups of a couple of extraordinary plants.

Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute