“…where the June bugs zoom…”

Richard Rodgers wrote the lyrics for the Broadway musical “Oklahoma” and introduced a little known area to the world although his created visions bore little resemblance to the second home of most Native Americans. During the nineteenth century, almost fifty Native American nations were forcibly removed from their homelands from Florida to Michigan and across the Midwest and resettled in what is now the state of Oklahoma. In the 1890’s, this same land was reopened to land speculators, ranchers, and would-be farmers and the Native American lands were further constricted. Individuals who breached the starting line for land claims became known as “Sooners” and that name became synonymous for Oklahomans. Today, Native American nations number about forty in scattered reservations across the state.

The first forced removal of Native Americans to Oklahoma was in the 1830’s. For the next fifty years, other nations from the north and Midwest were resettled across Oklahoma.

The state wildflower is fittingly the Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) which is native to the south-central US and northern Mexico. The flower is an annual although there are perennial varieties and it has been introduced worldwide and in some areas is considered invasive. The colorful petals are bright orange, red, and yellow with a deep reddish-brown center and the leaves and stem are hairy and the lower stem becomes woody late in the season. The honey bee is a principal pollinator and honey produced from the Indian Blanket, or Firewheel, is said to have a sweet, buttery taste.

It is easy to see the origin of the common name – Firewheel.
Mass plantings of Indian Blanket can be impressive and I am thinking of adding a patch to my landscape.
Tidy Tips is a California native wildflower that is often found in Indian Blanket seed mixes.
Coneflowers make an attractive color contrast to Indian Blanket beds.
The Prairie Larkspur is a common companion to the Indian Blanket.
When we admire the Indian Blanket, let’s not forget the thousands of Native Americans that once inhabited the entire country.

1 thought on ““…where the June bugs zoom…”

  1. I did not know where the term “Sooners” came from! Beautiful flower.


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