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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Tale of the Scarlet Gilia

Scarlet Gilia.  The name conjures up an air of mystery, of dominance.  Perhaps a Spanish accent.  Like the side-kick to Zorro.  Ole.

And indeed, Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata) is a pretty fabulous plant.  Bright red tubular flowers hanging off tall, narrow stems, and leaves so narrow they almost look coniferous.  They bloom late in the summer (August), and hummingbirds and hawk moths love these beautiful flowers.  Drought tolerant and doesn't require much for nutrient input, this plant is great for Wyoming gardens.

Scarlet Gilia is a biennial, meaning it will bloom only after spending a year incognito.  I guess being this stunning takes a year of prep.  It will spend year 1 as a short rosette of leaves, and year 2 spring up with flower stalks.  It dies after blooming, but it is a heavy reseeder so you will likely get many new rosettes in the garden in year 3. 

We are in an off-year for Scarlet Gilia on the Berry Prairie.  Last summer, the green roof looked like it was to be overtaken by this species.  This year, we have just a couple plants in bloom:

And just wait for 2017; the Berry Prairie will be a sea of red in August.  And then we will learn if it really does have a Spanish accent.

Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Truffula Trees

I discovered what must have been Dr. Seuss's inspiration.   Can you believe that the Berry Prairie has real-live miniature truffula trees?!

Ok so they're not actual truffula trees.  They're the seed heads of Sugarbowl Clematis (Clematis hirsutissima var. scottii), which look like this when in bloom:

Sugarbowl Clematis is native to Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico and western Nebraska, and grows in the foothills of the mountains as well as woodlands and mountain meadows.  Not exactly the same habitat as truffula trees.

But couldn't you just imagine the Lorax wandering about the garden, singing and jumping and being his jovial little self?

Well, it was fun to dream.  Here's to the inner child in each of us!

Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hey there good lookin'!

In the words of Ron Burgandy (well, paraphrased), the Berry Prairie looks good.  I mean, really good.  Hey everybody - come and see how good it looks!  The plants are just as lush as can be, and the diversity of flowers is fabulous.  Stop in any time to get an up-close look!


Blanketflower featuring a sweat bee


The Prairie Smoke are looking smokey!

Twinpod seeds

Wood Lily

Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Asteraceaes in Bloom!

The Berry Prairie plants are going nuts. So many in bloom right now! A group of flowers in the Asteraceae family, or the sunflower family, have a number of species in bloom right now. Below, Charmaine Delmatier, Director of the Rocky Mountain Herbarium Volunteer Program at the University of Wyoming, describes three that are in bloom right now.

Old-Man-of-the-Mountain (Tetraneuris grandiflora

Old-Man-of-the-Mountain (Tetraneuris grandiflora)
Also known as alpine sunflower, Old-Man-of-the-Mountain gets its name from a distinguishing characteristic; its hairs. Long villous wooly hairs cover much of the soft feathery leaves and a soft tomentose of shorter densely tangled hairs coat the peduncle (a stem-like structure that subtends each flowering head or involucre). A member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae, Old-Man-of-the-Mountain displays one of the showiest-brightest yellow-flowering heads in open areas of the alpine. It stands no taller than 12 inches, but the bundle of 1 – 10 flowering heads can also reach as wide as a foot. As the plant matures, its yellow vibrant color fades to tan. The enjoyment of seeing this spectacular alpine sunflower is that where it grows it can be locally abundant producing a refreshing display of color amidst the rocky gray landscape.

Lavender Fleabane (Erigeron sp.)

Lavender Fleabane (Erigeron sp.)
Fleabanes are a member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae, the largest plant family in the world with 23,000 species. The genus Erigeron, commonly known as a fleabane, is a daisy-like flowering herbaceous forb in the sunflower family. The Greek derivative "eri" literally translates to early. It is an appropriate name since the flowers bloom in early spring. According to distant folklore, gathering Erigerons in the wild and placing them inside a home prevents an unwanted infestation of fleas. You might wonder how to tell Asters from Erigerons. Here’s a quick solution; Asters can have several rows of bracts surrounding the flower, overlapping like roof shingles, but Erigerons have neatly uniform rows.

Stemless Goldenweed (Stenotus acaulis)

Stemless goldenweed (Stenotus acaulis)

A brilliant yellow and smaller member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), stemless goldenweed (Stenotus acaulis) bursts with golden color revealing the beginning of spring between April and May. Caleb A. Morse has determined that within the Flora of North America there is a mere four species; which spread across western North America and northwest Mexico. The sunflower family, Asteraceae, derives its root from the Greek Titan goddess, Asteria, (goddess of falling stars). According to one Greek myth; when she looked down upon the earth, and saw no stars, she began to weep. Where a tear fell upon the earth, a star was born, hence the name ‘starwort’. This became a common term for members of the Asteraceae family. The term ‘wort’ translates to ‘plant’ in Old English, so the largest plant family in the world is interestingly a collection of ‘starplants’.

Dwarf Mountain Fleabane or Cutleaf Daisy (Erigeron compositus var. discoidea)

Cutleaf Daisy (Erigeron compositus var. discoidea)

Alpine fleabane or mountain fleabane is an early bloomer in the sunflower family with large bright white flowering heads sitting singularly on a stem, and there are many stems, painting the landscape with bright white mounds in what often is a stark rocky habitat. It is a short compact plant and often thought of as an alpine or arctic plant. However, it’s interesting that its common name is associated with lands that have a large range in elevation; actually having lowlands and highlands, but here in Wyoming we all know we live in a high place and you will find it distributed across the state. Be somewhat careful if you handle this small unassuming plant, it is known to cause a bit of dermatitis.

Written by Charmaine Delmatier, Rocky Mountain Herbarium