Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sept. 21, 2011 A New Prairie

Two years ago Goshen College students and faculty seeded a prairie along Indiana SR 15 on the south end of the Goshen College campus.  (See Trading turf for prairie and Native Landscaping Project . )

It will take several years of careful maintenance to establish the prairie, but it is off to a solid start.  Below are pictures of plants now in bloom.
Tall Ironweed, Veronia gigantea
Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis
Ironweed and Cardinal Flower are just beginning to establish in the lowest and wettest part of the prairie.  The majority of the plants flowering now are in the higher and drier places.
Lance-Leaved Coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata
Rosinweed, Silphium integrifolium
Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed Susan has hairs all over the stem and simple leaves.  If you click on the photo to enlarge it you will see the hairs.
Three-Lobed Coneflower, Rudbeckia subtomentosa
 Sweet Coneflower, Rudbeckia subtomentosa, is easy to confuse with Black-Eyed Susan unless you find the three-lobed leaves at the base of the plant. 
Three-lobed lower leaves of Three-Lobed Coneflower
Four species of Goldenrod are blooming.  Leaf shape and size and arrangement of the small flower heads vary from species to species, but sometimes the differences are subtle enough that I overlook or misinterpret them.  Therefore, my identifications below may not be accurate.  Please comment if you question my identification.
Canada Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis
Very often this is the species you see along roadsides.  It likely was not seeded in this reconstructed prairie, but is a "volunteer'.
Old-Field Goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis
Note the large leaves at the base of the Old-Field Goldenrod.
Monarch Butterfly on Stiff Goldenrod, Solidago rigida
This individual is leaning way over, but note the rigid stem and rounded leaves.
Buckeye Butterflies on Stiff Goldenrod, Solidago rigida
Grass-Leaved Goldenrod, Solidago graminifolia
Note the flat-topped arrangement of the the flower heads on S. graminifolia.  Botanist K. Yatshievych in Field Guide to Indiana Wildflowers calls this species "Common Flat-Topped Goldenrod" and uses the scientific name Euthania graminifolia.
Monarch on Smooth Blue Aster, Aster laevis
 Several species of Asters are now blooming in this prairie.  Asters are as difficult for me to identify as Goldenrods are; again I welcome corrections to my identification.
Clasping leaves of Smooth Blue Aster, A. laevis
One key characteristic of Smooth Blue Aster is the way the stiff, smooth leaves clasp the smooth stem and have little "ears" that extend beyond the stem.  Some species of Aster have hairy stems and/or leaves.

Buckeye butterfly on New England Aster, A. novae-angliae
The bright reddish-purple New England Asters are the most showy in this prairie. There are several species of less showy, white asters that I have problems distinguishing.  The white aster in the photos below could be either "Many-Flowered" Aster, Aster ericoides or Heath Aster, Aster pilosus.
 A white aster, perhaps Aster ericoides or A. pilosus
A. ericoides or A. pilosus


  1. On the basis of correspondence from 3 persons knowledgeable about plant identification, I changed the identification of the Coreopsis in this post from C. tripteris to C. lanceolata. Also because one person wondered if the Aster I called A. ericoides may be A. pilosus, I noted that uncertainty in the post. I am grateful to these persons for their comments, particularly on identification of plants with composite flowers - I frequently find them difficult to identify.

  2. i just love how wildflowers bloom. Don't you think that its better for a flower that blooms by itself or is it ok if they are planted in arranged form?

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  3. Both are great, but I'm most taken by finding plants in natural areas.