A Wind in the Valley…

The Wild Prairie Rose (Rosa blanda) is the state wildflower of North Dakota. It blankets the flat prairie as well as the wild badlands of the western part of the state with which I am most familiar. Teddy Roosevelt made a home here in the late nineteenth century and his ranch is adjacent to the newest National Park – Roosevelt National Park and to the largest preserve of natural prairie in the United States – The Little Missouri National Grassland. The wind blows incessantly caressing the hills and valleys with blizzards in winter and hat-blowing conditions in summer. Somehow, in these harsh, mostly dry environments wildflowers persist and to the hardy blossom hunter reveal striking beauty mixed with unparalleled endurance.

North Dakota’s Wild Prairie Rose has almost no thorns and is almost always pink with a yellow center.
The Little Missouri National Grassland has changed little since the time Teddy Roosevelt roamed its hills and valleys.
The Prairie Coneflower is at home in North Dakota’s wilds.
Tragopogon, also known as Salsify or Goats Beard, is common in all grasslands in the summer.
The Bracketed Spiderwort is a small brilliant blue or purple dot in wetter Dakota environments.
The Globe Mallow adds a touch of beauty to a rock strewn scene.

I wonder if Teddy Roosevelt in his ranching endeavors ever took a few minutes to stop and admire some of the prairie jewels we have seen here. He was probably too involved with cattle and survival to notice the scattered blooms. The National Park Service now has the responsibility to protect these flowers as well as the mountain lion, elk, and bison that freely roam the badlands and grasslands that are the western Dakotas. Its a wild place and the Wild Prairie Rose is a fitting symbol of the state.

Where shall we visit next? Alphabetically, Ohio is calling and I have roamed the state from the far south around Marietta and the Ohio River to the far north at Kelley’s Island on Lake Erie. Their state wildflower can be found everywhere in between and is among my all-time top ten. Can’t wait!

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