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Chris' Camera Bag

A Photo Web log by Chris Young

Who grows there?

May 16, 2013 at 07:44 PM

When we need help with plant identification, we reach for a field guide.

But most field guides shows plants at their peak bloom time, not as young seedlings or dried and curled in winter.

So, for those who are establishing wildlife habitat or planting a native prairie garden, here’s a primer of common plants in their early stages of growth.

Most of these were photographed at the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary and Centennial Park in Springfield.

Both sites were burned in late March, about six or seven weeks ago.

Answers are at the bottom of the page.

1. The top two photos show different views of the same plant. This unique prairie plant resembles a yucca, with strap-like leaves that have toothy edges. It even has yucca in its scientific name.

2. This common prairie plant is a member of the mint family. If you are unsure, just crush the leaves to smell the mint. Like all mint family plants, this one has square stems.

3. This common plant is at home in our gardens, too. A woman’s name is part of its common name.

4. This single leaf will soon be part of a tall plant that is one of the prairie’s signature species. One of the Silphiums.

5. Another Silphium, related to number 4. Both will send up stalks six to eight feet tall. Leaves are rough to the touch.

6. One of two prairie shrubs, this plant gets its common name from the silvery, gray foliage.

7. This Echinacea is related to the popular garden plant, but grows in dry, sunny places. That’s Canada goldenrod in the background.

8. Very few plants have whorled leaves. This prairie/savanna plant has spires of white flowers that look like a candelabra.

9. Common prairie wildflower with yellow ray flowers and a disk at the center that sometimes appears gray.

10. This member of the carrot family probably is already in bloom by mid- to late-May.


Answers: 1. Rattlesnake master; 2. Wild bergamot; 3. Black-eyed Susan; 4. Compass plant; 5. Prairie dock; 6. Lead plant; 7. Pale purple coneflower. 8. Culver’s root. 9. Gray-headed coneflower. 10. Golden Alexanders.


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