Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Prairie in June

I braved the woodticks to explore our few acres of prairie this evening and see what's blooming.

Many of the flowers I recognize from  our field where I grew up in northern Minnesota, but I have never known their proper  names. I got out my  Minnesota wildflower guide and have attempted to  identify them for you. I believe this little shaggy, daisy-like flower is Fleabane.
As kids, my sister Bunny and I  called these "popcorn flowers." We would flip our little sister Rita's trike upside down, pluck the flowers and dropped them into the fender of the front tire. Then we made the tire spin by working the trike pedals with our hands and the flowers would fly out like popcorn popping. I now know this plant is actually called Starry Campion.
Earlier this summer we planted 28  Fraser Fir saplings along the north edge of our prairie in three rows, to become both future Christmas trees and a windbreak.  Looks like all but three are thriving and have new growth.
This plant is pretty but rather nasty: Wild Parsnip.  If you brush against the yellow flowers  when they are wet and it is sunny out, you will get  painful, blisters rash that last for months and cause scars.  Last year, our prairie was rife with wild parsnip. It doesn't  look quite so pervasive this summer, so maybe it grows in cycles. We plan to dress in protective clothing and have a few fun work sessions cutting these plants down before they go to seed. On the bright side, we have discovered that the root is edible and tasty--it tastes just like domesticated parsnips from the garden.
All along the trail Rog mowed through the prairie are wild strawberries, at peak of ripeness now,  and I easily gathered a handful to eat. They are so tiny but intensely flavorful - I bet each tiny wild berry has as much flavor packed into it as a big garden strawberry.
Growing amid the strawberries was this flower I did not recognize. It has a square stem indicating it is from the mint family, but no  fragrance.    Looking it up, I was delighted to discover it is called Heal All, used in folk medicine.  I have to investigate more how this plant is used.
I think this must be Yellow Avens, in the geum family and related to a favorite flower, Prairie Smoke.

I love figuring out the identity of the plants growing on our land-- so many more yet to learn!

1 comment:

gz said...

Another name for Heal All is Self Heal, I think another is Prunella