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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!




Bitterroot

Blanketflower featuring a sweat bee

Fescue


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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

You Say Clematis, I Say Clematis

The Berry Prairie's clematis is in bloom!  Now, if you're envisioning a clematis like this:



Sorry, that's not it.

Our clematis is small.  Its flowers hang upside-down.  It stays low to the ground and scoffs at a trellis.  It's pollinated by a variety of insects, but big, burly bumble bees in particular love it.  It's native to our great state of Wyoming.  What more could you want in a clematis?

Viewers, meet the Sugarbowl Clematis (Clematis scotii)!


Check back again soon for updates on other flowers in bloom.  There are lots - if you're in Laramie, feel welcome to visit the green roof any time, any day of the week!


Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute

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