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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

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