Prairie Flowers Everywhere

moon phase Week of 06/20/2010 Extra Good For Planting Fall Lettuce, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, And Other Leafy Vegetables.

The Kickapoo Valley is in its full dress green and there are early summer wildflowers everywhere. I touch most of them I and stick my nose in for a sample of the sweet fragrance of the season. Indian Paintbrush aka Orange Hawkweed Indian Paintbrush aka Orange Hawkweed The tall yellow Poison parsnip is the exception and I stay a safe distance from its pretty but toxic yellow flowers. Touching the flower tops while in the sunshine can result in some nasty and painful blisters on bare skin. These days itís hard to find a place to take a nature hike without having to confront Poison parsnip.

My morning walk took me along a weedy fencerow where I spotted the tall viney stem of a Carrion berry. Round clumps of green berries grow out from the purple stem. When ripe, the berries will be black-purple and very showy but inedible. Where the fence line turns at the edge of the woods was a fancy bed of White anemone. Fritillary butterfly on purple clover Fritillary butterfly on purple clover Their pretty white flowers standing just above large, light green leaves. Behind them stood a nice thick bunch of orange-red columbine. They must really like it next to the anemoneóthere were more flowers that I could count.

The old country bridge has a small clear-water stream flowing under it and I always pause for a bit to look in the water. A few Cliff swallows chattered at me as they flew in and out from under the bridge. I quickly snapped a picture of some minnows in the shallow water then went on my way so as not to bother the swallows.

Crab spider in a Wild Rose Crab spider in a Wild Rose I noticed there seemed to be a fair number of butterflies in the area. A few yellow Swallowtails, several different kinds of skippers, a few Monarchs and quite a few Fritillaries. Itís good to see butterflies again. They were few and far between for a few years and I was beginning to wonder if their numbers would rise again.

Looking out across the meadow I find it hard to believe how green everything is. Literally everything below the blue sky and fluffy white clouds is green. To think, only three short months ago, there was no green to be seen.

Spiderwort Spiderwort A handsome black and white Kingbird flew out from the edge of the woods, caught a flying insect and returned to his perch in the leafy trees. Kingbirds, unlike most flycatchers, seem to be more protective of their nesting territories and will aggressively attack anyone who comes near the nest tree. Iíve seen them fly after horses, cows, dogs, other birds and people who come close.

On a sandy hillside my eye caught the color pink. The beautiful pink flowers of the Prairie rose just had to be examined with my nose. When I bent down closer I could see the Crab spider had the same thing in mind. She had caught a small bee that had also come to sample the roseís sweet nectar. The flowers serve nature in so many ways.

Beardtongue aka Penstemon Beardtongue aka Penstemon Itís was a beautiful and sunny morning and the songs of the birds are all around me as I follow the edge of the woods. A little Yellow warbler is curious and lands near me. Heís one of several kinds of warblers who make their home here for the summer. Warblers are inconspicuous birds by nature and like to stay close to cover. By making little squeaking noises with my lips, I can often attract a curious warbler who I would have otherwise not seen. Another sound I use to attract birds in thick cover is to force the word pish out of my closed lips. It sounds like pssh, pssh, pssh, pssh, and I repeat it every ten seconds while standing still. In thick cover itís hard to spot a very small bird so donít search for him. Let your eyes pick up his movement in the foliageóitís his movement that gives him away.

In the evening I took a short walk through the prairie to see whatís happening. The color blue is the most dominant now as there are hundreds of pretty blue Spiderworts in full bloom. Wild Indigo Wild Indigo They show their blue faces all day in the sunshine and close up each night. The lovely lavender large-flowered Beardtongue also stands out in the tall green grass. The color white is also very prominent now with plants like the tall Cow parsnip, with their huge white flower heads. The elegant white flowering spikes of Wild indigo are three feet tall and as pretty as any flower in the prairie. To think that these and several hundred other native prairie plants were all that grew here at one time. These days itís rare to find any remaining native grassland plants, but a walk through a prairie in bloom is one of my very favorite ways to relax.

Naturally yours,


All art ©2013 Organic Valley

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Jim from from St. Paul , MN and Viola, WI on June 25, 2010 at 07:21:16 PM
I love Dan's articles. He points out things in my own backyard, which practically abuts his, which I take for granted and certainly don't know the scientific names or even the common names of these beautiful objects. Thanks Dan. Jim Schaeffer
Rose from from Gaineville on June 25, 2010 at 05:02:44 AM
A photo of the Poison Parsnips would be helpful.
Sharyn from from Atlanta, GA on June 24, 2010 at 09:12:32 PM
Thanks for sharing your prairie walk with all of us. You saw so many plants I've never even heard of being from the Southern United States. I love to walk, too. However, I wish I had as scenic a route to take! :)
Ellen from from Kelseyville, northern+California on June 24, 2010 at 07:20:58 PM
I was wondering about the poison parsnips as well-are they a parsnip? Are they an invasive species, such as we have star thistle that take over and force other species out? We've had more wildflowers this year then ever and gardens are growing well.
Sherry from from Forest Grove, Oregon on June 24, 2010 at 07:18:35 PM
Dear Dan,

Hi there! I'm from Wisconsin and have been reading your articles for a few years now. I've always enjoyed your illustrations and it seems as though there aren't as many new ones as there used to be. Is that true? I enjoy photos too, of course, but I just was really pleased that your art was being shared and supported by Organic Valley. I hope to see more soon!


sherry Reuter
Juanita from from Floyd County, Virginia on June 24, 2010 at 02:41:39 PM
My goodness, I've never heard of Poison Parsnips! Where did they originate? Around here, we only have the ubiquitous poison ivy with ropes sometimes as big around as your arm.

Does the Poison Parsnips itch the same as ivy?
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