Monday, April 08, 2013

The First Flower of Spring in the Prairie

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.

Although the exposure here is a touch dark, the blue of the bloom seems truer to me than more "appropriately exposed" photos.  The foliage of the bluet itself is hard to see - it's not the dark green, rather linear leaves just below to the right and left of the bloom, but rather the smaller, lighter green leaves just "above" the bloom.

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!


~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Very pretty. Hopefully any of those in our area are still tucked in. Looking at 20 degrees possibly Tuesday night. Brrrr.

Jason said...

You know it is really spring when the wildflowers tell you so.