Transitioning to the Mountains…

As one travels from East to West through Nebraska, the elevation gently rises, the precipitation gradually decreases, and a crispness is felt in the air as gentle winds descend from the mountain heights in Colorado and Wyoming to settle over the river valleys and plains of the East. One thing doesn’t change. The diversity and intensity of short grass prairie wildflowers is ever present. Once the snow melts in early Spring to the first deep freeze of late Fall, color and structure dominate and call us to explore every field, every rill, and every valley. The state wildflower of Nebraska is the Goldenrod which we covered while visiting Kentucky, so lets pay our respects to this golden giant and then explore many of the lesser known wildflower inhabitants of the shorter grass vistas.

The Goldenrod is a beautiful and dominant part of the short grass prairie of Nebraska.

Many other wildflowers populate the unbroken prairie, roadsides, and riverbanks throughout Nebraska. The Black-eyed Susan which was adopted by Maryland as a state wildflower and covered in a previous article occurs in all open spaces blooming profusely with bright gold and black flashes.

Summer and Fall bring Black-eyed Susans and its cousin Brown-eyed Susans.
The Beard-Tongue gets its name from a hairy patch just inside the throat of the blossom. I found a patch in northern Kentucky but it is seldom seen outside the prairies.
The Desert Globe Mallow is seen more on the higher and drier hill sections of western Nebraska and it adds a touch of warmth wherever it is found/
We saw the Leadplant when we visited the Hoosier Prairie several weeks ago. It is not found outside the grassy prairie and is unique to that environment.
Coneflowers are everywhere in prairie ecosystems. Here several variations of Purple Coneflower mix with Black-eyed Susan.
The Golden Tickseed, a Coreopsis variation, is one of the first flowers to populate abandoned fields.
The Poppy Mallow or Cowboy Rose blooms all summer.
The Prairie Phlox is related to our more common Garden Phlox, Blue Phlox, and Woodland Phlox of our Southeastern states and was a common sight in the Hoosier Prairie.
The Prairie Larkspur is also related to our common Blue Larkspur and is just as poisonous to our pets.
I have grown Spiderwort in damp, shady areas of my Georgia gardens but it never did as well as it does in brighter and drier environments of short grass prairies.

Put them all together and be in the right place at the right time and you can capture a beautiful Nebraska prairie scene.

Our next virtual state wildflower tour stops in Nevada. One would expect a desert plant with a strong odor and you won’t be disappointed.

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