[Bleeding Heartland Logo]

About
Bleeding Heartland is a community blog about Iowa politics: campaigns and elections, state government, social and environmental issues. Bleeding Heartland also weighs in on presidential policies and campaigns, federal legislation and what the Iowans in Congress are up to. Join our community, post your thoughts as comments or diaries, help keep our leaders honest and hold them accountable.
Author
- desmoinesdem
Highlights
- Iowa 2012 election coverage
- Who's who in the Iowa House for 2015
- Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2015
- Iowa wildflowers
2014 Election Coverage
- Absentee ballot numbers
- IA-Sen
- IA-Gov
- IA-01
- IA-02
- IA-03
- IA-04
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of State
- State Auditor
- Iowa Senate overview
- Iowa House overview
- Senate district 5
- Senate district 7
- Senate district 9
- Senate district 12
- Senate district 13
- Senate district 15
- Senate district 17
- Senate district 27
- Senate district 29
- Senate district 39
- Senate district 41
- Senate district 47
- Senate district 49
- House district 8
- House district 15
- House district 25
- House district 26
- House district 28
- House district 30
- House district 33 (2013)
- House district 40
- House district 51
- House district 60
- House district 63
- House district 65
- House district 68
- House district 73
- House district 82
- House district 91
- House district 92
- House district 95
- House district 99
Search




Advanced Search


Paid Advertising


Bleeding Heartland
It's what plants crave.
wildflowers

Weekend open thread: July 4 edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jul 04, 2015 at 21:19:44 PM CDT

Happy Independence Day to the Bleeding Heartland community! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend--preferably not by setting off amateur fireworks. Although the Iowa House voted this year to legalize fireworks, the bill never came to a vote in the Iowa Senate. So amateur fireworks are still illegal, which is just as well, since they cause too many emergency room visits and distress for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. We caught the fireworks display after the Iowa Cubs baseball game on Friday night and are going out in a little while to see the Windsor Heights fireworks.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation marked the holiday by posting some stunning pictures of Iowa wildflowers, "nature's fireworks."

Alfie Kohn noted today that socialists authored both the Pledge of Allegiance and the words to "America the Beautiful," which for my money should be our national anthem.

Speaking of which, former Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the Iowa Cubs baseball game last night. Who knew she had such a good voice?

Two Democratic presidential candidates spent the day in Iowa. Senator Bernie Sanders and many supporters walked the parade in Waukee, a suburb of Des Moines. Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley was in Independence, Dubuque, and Clinton.

As is our family's custom, I took the kids to the Windsor Heights parade this afternoon. It's one of the smaller parades in the Des Moines area, which explains the relatively sparse presidential campaign presence. On the Republican side, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was there; he also walked the Urbandale parade route earlier in the day. A few volunteers handed out stickers for Ben Carson, and I didn't see any other GOP campaigns represented. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton's campaign had a small presence; apparently more supporters walked for her in Waukee.

U.S. Representative David Young (IA-03) was working the crowd along the parade route. One of his potential Democratic challengers, Desmund Adams, mingled with Windsor Heights residents before walking the Waukee parade.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. After the jump I've enclosed a few photos from the Windsor Heights parade, including one wildflower shot, inspired by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. I also posted the roll call from the Iowa House vote in May to approve the fireworks legalization bill. That legislation split both the Democratic and Republican caucuses.

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 505 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Oswego tea (scarlet bee balm, red bergamot)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 22:08:53 PM CDT

Since last week's featured wildflower was so unobtrusive, I'm going to the other extreme today with one of the showiest wildflowers around. The bright red flowers, not often seen in natural Iowa habitats, are also appropriate for July 4 week. Ruby-throated hummingbirds and Swallowtail butterflies feed on the nectar.

Technically, Oswego tea (Mondarda didyma), also known as scarlet bee balm or red bergamot, is not an Iowa wildflower. Although the Natural Resources Conservation Service website shows Iowa within the native range for this plant, the Illinois Wildflowers website describes the plant as "native to the Northeastern states, but its original range did not extend as far to the west as Illinois." Likewise, Sylvan Runkel and Alvin Bull write in Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands that oswego tea is indigenous to the eastern U.S. and "has escaped from garden plantings in our area. Its beautiful crimson flower may brighten woodlands in late summer."

Oswego tea is closely related to Horsemint (bee balm, wild bergamot), a native plant common throughout Iowa along roadsides, pastures or woodland edges. Both plants have flowerheads that are a cluster of tube-shaped flowers without scent. However, the leaves of horsemint and oswego tea have a "minty aroma."

Lately I've noticed the first American bellflowers blooming along central Iowa bike trails. That's one of my favorite summer wildflowers. I don't have any recent photos of bellflowers, but at the end of this post I included two shots of summer fruit growing in the wild.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 211 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Common black snakeroot

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 24, 2015 at 16:19:09 PM CDT

Today's featured native plant is a perennial that "can be used as a ground cover in shaded areas," but I doubt anyone in the Bleeding Heartland community will seek it out for a garden or flower bed. Common black snakeroot (Sanicula odorata), known in some sources by the common name Clustered black snakeroot and/or the Latin name Sanicula gregaria, has flowers so unobtrusive they can be difficult to see. Clusters of them develop into burs, which stick to clothing, shoes, and pets. White avens plants use the same effective, if annoying, seed dispersal method, but the black snakeroot flowers are not as eye-catching as white avens.

I enclose below several pictures of common black snakeroot, which is prevalent in and near wooded areas throughout much of North America east of the Rocky Mountains.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 313 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Blue cohosh

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 17, 2015 at 18:50:00 PM CDT

Naturalist and photographer Eileen Miller has contributed stunning pictures as well as a description of Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) for today's installment of Iowa wildflower Wednesday. She found these plants, which are native to most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, at Dolliver Memorial State Park. I highly recommend visiting that park if you are in striking distance of Webster County. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources website notes,

A unique facet of the sandstone formations at Dolliver are the "Copperas beds." The towering 100-foot bluff on Prairie Creek is a cross-sectional view of the ancient river bed that is over 150 million years old. Over the ages, the erosive power of Prairie Creek uncovered this unique feature. The porous nature of the sandstone has caused many minerals such as calcite and sulfur to dissolve as the water seeps through. As the water evaporates, the mineral deposits are left behind. You can see many of these deposits in the sandstone cliffs, as well as petrified logs and sticks.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 244 words in story)

Iowa wildflower weekend: Virginia waterleaf (Eastern waterleaf)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 13, 2015 at 19:15:00 PM CDT

Technical issues prevented me from publishing my wildflower diary on Wednesday, as planned. So today's feature on a woodland native will double as the weekend open thread: all topics welcome.

I enclose below photos of Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) at various stages of development.

Elderflowers are starting to bloom along central Iowa trails. If you notice these clusters of small white flowers (some pictures are near the end of this post), consider circling back to harvest the berries later this summer--if you can get to them before the birds do. Scroll to the bottom of this diary to see a ripe cluster of elderberries.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 382 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Poison hemlock and wild parsnip

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 21:23:54 PM CDT

Who says wildflowers are harmless, pretty things? This week's first featured plant can kill you. The second can give you a horrible blistering rash.

Normally I focus on native plants for my wildflower diaries, but I'm making an exception this week because European invaders poison hemlock (yes, that poison hemlock) and wild parsnip have both become widespread in Iowa. Learning to spot them will help you steer clear. If you have children who like to explore nature, I strongly encourage you to teach them to avoid wild parsnip. A friend's son ran off the bike path to play and ended up with second-degree burns.

Speaking of wildflowers you should observe from a safe distance, larger poison ivy plants tend to bloom in June. The flowers are not conspicuous, but they are attractive.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 680 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Early meadow rue

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 27, 2015 at 22:57:12 PM CDT

This week's featured wildflower is among several meadow rue species that are native to Iowa. Early meadow rue (Thalictrum dioicum) is a smaller plant that blooms earlier in the year than Purple meadow rue or Waxy meadow rue. Early meadow rue typically grows "in open woods and wood edges in sandy to loamy soil. It is quite shade tolerant (no full sun) and survives in moist to dry conditions."

The meadow rues have male and female flowers, which look quite different and bloom on separate plants. As with the purple meadow rue Bleeding Heartland featured last summer, I was only able to capture the male flowers of early meadow rue in the photos enclosed below. The Minnesota Wildflowers and Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden websites include close-up shots of the female flowers.

I've also enclosed below some pictures of a "mystery" plant I found in a neighbor's yard in Windsor Heights. The leaves and flower clusters look like early meadow rue, but the blossoms didn't resemble either the male or female flowers. I hope some Bleeding Heartland reader who is more knowledgable about native plants will be able to identify the species.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 425 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Bishop's cap (Two-leaved mitrewort)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 20, 2015 at 22:00:00 PM CDT

Iowans who venture to wooded areas this Memorial Day weekend will likely see many mid-spring wildflowers. Wild geranium and Virginia waterleaf are still going strong in my corner of the world, and you may find False rue anemone, May apples (umbrella plants) or Columbines in bloom. This week I saw the first flowers on black raspberry plants. If you see those, check back in late June or early July to pick the berries (technically, compound drupes). Wear jeans to avoid getting torn to pieces by the thorns.

This week's featured wildflower was new to me on a recent visit to Dolliver Memorial State Park in Webster County. Bishop's cap (Mitella diphylla) is native to much of the U.S. east of the Missouri River. It's not a show-stopper, but some consider its "small delicate flowers [...] very attractive and fairy-like." As a bonus, I've also enclosed below a few pictures of liverwort, a non-flowering plant that thrives in damp and rocky habitats, as does Bishop's cap. Liverworts are "the simplest true plants," so ancient that they predate ferns and mosses as well as plants producing flowers and seeds.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

Final note: I saw what looked like a heavily pregnant doe the other day, which reminded me of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' good advice to "leave wildlife babies in the wild," rather than attempting to rescue animals you may assume to have been abandoned. Deer are among the mammals that sometimes leave young offspring for a while. The mother is usually nearby.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 429 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: False rue anemone

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 13, 2015 at 23:57:56 PM CDT

Early spring wildflowers have given way to mid-spring bloomers across Iowa. In prairie habitats, Eileen Miller has found some hoary puccoon and fringed puccoon blooming. In central Iowa wooded areas, May apples (umbrella plants), Virginia waterleaf, sweet cicely, and wild geranium are near their peak. Sweet William are still prevalent too, helping to compensate for the end of this year's spectacular Virginia bluebells show. Buds are visible on many native plants that will flower in the late spring or early summer, including wild grapes and one of my favorites, Solomon's seal.

A few rue anemone flowers are still blooming in Windsor Heights, which brings me to today's featured plant. False rue anemone (Enemion biternatum) is easily confused with rue anemone. Both plants are among the earliest spring wildflowers to bloom and continue to flower for many weeks after other early flower have gone. Both plants initially have reddish-brown foliage, which turns green before long. Neither rue anemone nor false rue anemone flowers have petals. What look like petals are white or pinkish-white sepals. The Illinois Wildflowers, U.S. Wildflowers, and Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden websites all contain more detailed botanical descriptions as well as tips on distinguishing false rue anemone from rue anemone. Short version: the leaves are shaped differently, and rue anemone flowers usually have more sepals than the five sepals on false rue anemone flowers.

I've enclosed several photos of false rue anemone after the jump. This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 260 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Toadshade (Toad trillium, Sessile trillium)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 06, 2015 at 23:40:00 PM CDT

Once you learn to recognize a native plant, you often start seeing it where you've never noticed it before. So it was for me with Toadshade (Trillium sessile), also known as Toad trillium or Sessile trillium. As far as I knew, I'd never seen it until Eileen Miller pointed it out on a recent visit to the Ledges State Park in Boone County. A few days ago, a neighbor's daughter asked me about a red flower in her back yard, and sure enough, a group of toadshade was blooming there. I'd never have expected to find it in Windsor Heights.

Toadshade isn't as stunning as some of its trillium relatives, like Snow trillium, but it's an attractive and distinctive plant. I've enclosed several pictures after the jump.

If you have a chance to visit a wooded area in Iowa soon, you are likely to see a variety of spring wildflowers. During the past week, I saw the first blossoms open on May apple (umbrella plant) and Virginia waterleaf. Several early spring wildflowers are mostly gone, but you might still find spring beauty, Virginia bluebells, or rue anemone. Several native plants that usually start blooming in April are still prevalent, such as sweet William (blue phlox), sweet cicely, littleleaf crowfoot or buttercup, violets, and Jack-in-the-pulpit. You're also likely to find some maroon flowers touching the ground if you peek under wild ginger leaves.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 237 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Marsh marigold

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 29, 2015 at 18:33:40 PM CDT

Today's featured native plant is relatively rare and found mainly in wetlands. The naturalist and photographer Eileen Miller showed me a large stand of Marsh marigold on a recent visit to Dolliver Memorial State Park (Webster County), a beautiful area with some historically significant sites. Eileen contributed the photographs and text about these bright yellow flowers, which I've enclosed below.

Many spring wildflowers are peaking in central Iowa. A few days ago, my kids and I went out to pull up garlic mustard (an invasive plant) and saw all of the following native plants in bloom within a wooded area of less than an acre: spring beauty, Dutchman's breeches, sweet William (blue phlox), sweet cicely, littleleaf crowfoot or buttercup, Virginia bluebells, spring beauty, toothwort, rue anemone, bellwort, violets, and Jack-in-the-pulpit.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 283 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Pussytoes

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 22, 2015 at 23:56:00 PM CDT

Warmer weather and spring rains have caused woodland wildflowers to explode all over Iowa lately. This past week, I saw the first blossoms of sweet William (blue phlox), sweet cicely, and littleleaf crowfoot or buttercup.

I was fortunate to visit the Ledges State Park in Boone County recently with naturalist and photographer Eileen Miller. We saw carpet-like stands of spring beauty, bloodroot, and Dutchman's breeches. Eileen also noticed a much less showy native plant, which I had never seen (or at least not been aware of seeing) outside books.

After the jump I enclose several pictures of pussytoes in bloom. The plants are native to most of North America. They are so unobtrusive that I would have walked right past them if Eileen had not pointed them out.

As a bonus, I included a photo of bloodroot and Dutchman's breeches blooming together at the end of this post.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 216 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday returns: Dutchman's breeches

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 23:50:00 PM CDT

After a somewhat late start, many spring wildflowers are blooming now in central Iowa. If you walk in a wooded area over the next few days, you may see Virginia bluebells, spring beauty, toothwort, rue anemone, Dogtooth violets (also called trout lilies), or today's featured native plant, Dutchman's breeches. Thanks to the distinctive shape of the flowers, Dutchman's breeches are among the easiest spring wildflowers to identify.

The arrival of spring also heralds the return of Harlan Ratcliff's Central Iowa Butterfly Forecast, updated every two weeks at the Poweshiek Skipper site.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 365 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: New England Aster

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 20:50:00 PM CST

This week's wildflower diary is dedicated to Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who may become the only Democrat to survive the 2014 Republican wave in a targeted U.S. Senate race.

New England Aster, known as Symphyotrichum novae-angliae or Aster novae-angliae, is native to most of the U.S. and Canada. The plant blooms in the late summer or early fall, and its many flowerheads stand out against the landscape with their purple or pink ray flowers and yellow or orange disk flowers. I've enclosed several pictures after the jump.

According to the Minnesota Wildflowers website, "New England Aster is one of the last flowers to bloom in the season." On that note, Iowa wildflower Wednesday is going on hiatus until the spring. Previous posts in the series are archived here. Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest diaries featuring Iowa nature photographs at any time of the year.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 146 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Great blue lobelia

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 23:40:00 PM CDT

The peak blooming period for today's featured plant is in late summer, but we've had an unseasonably warm October across Iowa, so I decided to run with it anyway. Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is native to most of North America east of the Rockies. I enclose several pictures after the jump.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 406 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Plain gentian (cream gentian)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 20:47:38 PM CDT

Some late summer wildflowers are tall enough be seen from a mile away, some catch your attention with masses of flowerheads, and some make up for being low to the ground with brilliant-colored blossoms. Today's featured wildflower is none of the above.

Plain gentian (Gentiana alba) is native to much of the Midwest, including Iowa. Also known as cream gentian, yellow gentian or sometimes white prairie gentian, it "grows in well drained soils of moist meadows, prairies and open woods with full sun to partial shade." The plant usually is only 1 to 2 feet tall, and the white blossoms are either closed or barely open at the ends. According to the website of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minnesota, "When the corolla lips are closed or just partly open it takes a large bee to force them apart to reach in for the nectar."

I would have walked right past the plain gentian amid the taller grasses in a prairie patch at Whiterock Conservancy last month. Fortunately, Eileen Miller showed me some flowering plants. Only a couple of my pictures came out, and I've enclosed those below. I don't know what kind of insect chewed up some of the leaves; mammalian herbivores are thought to avoid plants in the gentian family.

As a bonus, I included a picture of wild cucumber fruit, which Eileen showed me near a bank of the Middle Raccoon River. Wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata) is a native vine and an interesting plant, but a warning to foragers: its fruit are not edible.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 25 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Sky blue aster

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 22:53:16 PM CDT

Full disclosure: asters can be hard to tell apart, even for experts, and I am not an expert. So while I'm fairly confident that the pictures below depict Sky blue aster, I wouldn't bet the farm on it. They were blooming last month in prairie habitat at Whiterock Conservancy, and I suspect some are still blooming, as many asters continue to flower well into the Iowa autumn.

As a bonus, I've enclosed below a picture of one of my favorite late summer prairie wildflowers, rough blazing star. It was blooming near the patches of sky blue aster.

This post is also an open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 329 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Downy gentian

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 08, 2014 at 23:05:00 PM CDT

Eileen Miller has contributed more stunning photos for this week's edition of Iowa wildflower Wednesday. The featured flower is Downy gentian, also known as prairie gentian. I've never seen this flower blooming in real life. It's among several plants in the gentian family that blossom in Iowa prairies during the early autumn.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 260 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: White turtlehead

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 01, 2014 at 22:55:42 PM CDT

Today's featured plant is native to most of the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. I was unfamiliar with white turtlehead (Chelone glabra) until Eileen Miller pointed it out to me during a visit to Whiterock Conservancy a few weeks ago. Flowers can appear anytime from July through September, and they are easy to recognize because of the "turtlehead" shape.  

I've enclosed several pictures of white turtlehead after the jump. This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 571 words in story)

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Common sneezeweed (Autumn sneezeweed)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 24, 2014 at 22:13:38 PM CDT

This week's featured wildflower is native to almost all of North America and thrives in sunny spots with relatively wet soil. After the jump I've posted several pictures of Common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale). As you can probably guess from the Latin name and the alternative common names Fall sneezeweed or Autumn sneezeweed, this plant blooms in the late summer or early fall. Eileen Miller showed me this patch of sneezeweed in a wet area of Whiterock Conservancy earlier this month.

The name sneezeweed made me wonder whether this plant was allergenic for many people, as is ragweed, which also blooms in the late summer. But according to the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin, "The common name is based on the former use of its dried leaves in making snuff, inhaled to cause sneezing that would supposedly rid the body of evil spirits."

This post is also an open thread: all topics welcome. As tonight marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, I also want to wish a very happy new year to all the Jews in the Bleeding Heartland community.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 337 words in story)
Next >>
Menu

Make a New Account

Username:

Password:



Forget your username or password?


Iowa Liberal Blogs
- Blog For Iowa
- Iowa .Gif-t Shop
- Iowa Independent (archive)
- Iowa Policy Points
- Iowa Starting Line
- Iowans for a Future That Doesn't Suck
- John Deeth
Iowa Conservative Blogs
- Hawkeye GOP
- The Bean Walker
- Caffeinated Thoughts
- The Conservative Reader: Iowa
- The Iowa Republican
Journalists' blogs and research
- 24-Hour Dorman
- Cedar Rapids Gazette government page
- Iowa Fiscal Partnership
- Iowa Policy Project
- Iowa Politics Insider
- Iowa Watchdog.org
- On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog
- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
Statistics


 
Powered by: SoapBlox