That Montana-Missouri Connection

Yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius)

The size of the seedheads bobbing about in a ditch near the entrance to Burr Oak Woods conservation area in Blue Springs, Missouri made clear I’d found something other than an ordinary dandelion. From three to five inches in diameter, their gleaming fluff begged to be identified.

Identification turned out to be easier than I could have imagined. As I began catching up on blogs after two weeks of travel and family time, I discovered a similar puffball in a post from Montana Outdoors, together with a photo showing yellow salsify in bud and in flower. Eventually, I learned that the plant, originally from Europe, sometimes is called goatsbeard, but that risks confusion with yet another goatsbeard — Aruncus dioicusthat’s part of the rose family and which also (somewhat oddly) is known as bride’s feathers.

Intrigued by the coincidence, I wondered which other spring wildflowers Montana and Missouri might share. As if on cue, Terry followed up his post of the salsify with photos of a flower called self-heal. The examples I found scattered throughout Missouri and Arkansas seemed nearly at the end of their bloom, but they remained interesting and attractive.

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) at Missouri’s Diamond Grove Prairie
Self-heal seen from above in the Ouachita mountains of Arkansas

Only a few days before, Terry had posted photos of a Montana native: the Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana). While that wild rose doesn’t overlap with Missouri’s native pasture rose, their appearance is similar, and the delight of their flowers surely is equal.

Beyond that, Rosa carolina also is listed as present in a few far northeastern counties of Texas, as well as in Kerr and Gillespie counties, which I occasionally visit. Next spring, I’ll make it a point to seek out this native rose closer to home.

Pasture rose (Rosa Carolina) at Missouri’s Diamond Grove Prairie

Certainly I expected to find at least a few unfamiliar wildflowers during my recent travel, but discovering these Missouri-Montana connections provided an extra dollop of delight.

Comments always are welcome.

 

A Plant Made for Mardi Gras

The traditional colors of Mardi Gras — purple, green, and gold — usually are associated with King Cakes, beads, costumes, and masks.

But over the course of a season, the silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) displays those same colors: first in flower, then in unripened and maturing fruits.

Who knows? Perhaps in the middle of their life cycle, the plants throw a party and call out to one another, “Laissez les bonnes fleurs rouler!”

Silverleaf nightshade flower ~ Bandera County, Texas

 

Silverleaf nightshade fruit forming ~ Brazoria County, Texas

 

Silverleaf nightshade ripened fruits ~ Tallgrass Prairie Bottoms, Kansas

 

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

 

Looking Toward Winter

Soybeans and silo ~ Chase County, Kansas

Whatever you’re storing for the winter — be it acorns, soybeans, apples, or nuts — be sure to choose your container carefully.

 

Comments always are welcome.

A bit of additional information:
After looking at photos of similar silos, it became obvious that the split in the side was common. Mike Holder, District Extension Director for Agriculture & Natural Resources in the area, told me that the space would have been taken up by a series of small doors. Before filling, the doors were closed, and then the silage was blown in. As it was needed, one door after another was opened, beginning from the top, and the silage tossed down. Most doors were wooden, and they sometimes were removed when a silo was no longer used.