Prairies are botanically smart, given the weather they regularly endure. In the center of the continent, late spring freezes are the norm, rather than the exception, so the prairie greens up and blooms much later than plant communities or ecosystems geared towards gentler climes.
This morning I found a definitive sign of spring, the first flower on our restoring prairie: a small bluet, Houstonia pusilla.
I don't know much about these sweet, tiny little flowers except that they are native, annual and among the first to bloom on the prairie in the spring. They grow in full sun (hardly a surprise in a plant at home on the prairie) and they prefer dry conditions with good drainage. Certainly we've been able to give them plenty of those conditions over the last two years!
As I was doing some research on this species, I saw several beautiful photos of clusters of small bluets, looking almost like mats of tiny blue flowers. Maybe one day, the ones in our Back Five will multiply to the point where they shine forth like that!