# Wildflowers



Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Striped white violet

After severely fracturing my ankle in January, I don’t walk easily on uneven ground, so didn’t get out to photograph wildflowers as often as usual this spring. Fortunately, I was able to find plenty of this week’s featured plants in my own back yard.

Striped white violets (Viola striata) are not nearly as prevalent as common blue violets (Viola sororia), but they are found throughout Iowa and in about 20 states in the eastern part of the U.S. They are sometimes known as striped cream violet or pale violet. According to the Illinois Wildflowers website, “This species doesn’t invade lawns because its stems are too long. It is relatively easy to cultivate in gardens.”

I usually start seeing striped white violets in April, but this year’s cold spring delayed the blooming period by several weeks. I took all of the photographs enclosed below (except one) between mid-May and early June in Windsor Heights.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Sedges

Leland Searles is consultant and owner of Leeward Solutions, LLC, a company that offers regulatory and non-regulatory environmental services. For more information, see Leeward’s website at http://www.leewardecology.com. All photos of sedges enclosed below are Leland’s work and published with permission.

You have walked on them, looked at them, maybe even pulled the seed stem to nibble on the tender base, as though it were a grass. But it isn’t.

Sedges are an important, often overlooked group of native plants. In Iowa there are at least 125 species belonging to one genus, Carex.

Carex sedges often are overlooked because they look so much like grasses. And with wide variation in their appearance and very tiny details, they are a daunting group of plants to learn. But with patience, those details also lead to small moments of awe and wonder at the different symmetries and adaptations of each.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A prairie home remnant in O'Brien County

Bruce Morrison is a working artist and photographer living with his wife Georgeann in rural southeast O’Brien County, Iowa. Bruce works from his studio/gallery – a renovated late 1920s brooding house/sheep barn. You can follow Morrison on his artist blog, Prairie Hill Farm Studio, or visit his website at Morrison’s studio.

When we found the acreage here in southeast O’Brien County 20 years ago, it was the perfect fit for us. We had a few trees and a small bit of wooded habitat with nice spring ephemerals, and some great hillside gravel slopes with actual native prairie remnants, something that has become less easy to find in Iowa.

This little spot may not be on the super quality charts, but even places like ours are disappearing much too frequently. The photographs shown here depict a little piece of what once was, when prairie habitats covered most of what is now Iowa.

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Favorite wildflowers of Iowa's 2022 Democratic ticket

For this post-primary election edition of Iowa wildflower Wednesday, I asked all of Iowa’s Democratic nominees for federal or statewide offices about their favorite wildflowers.

The candidates could choose any flowering plant. It didn’t have to be a native species or one that tends to bloom in Iowa around this time of year.

I’m presenting the wildflower choices in the same order the candidates appeared on the Iowa Secretary of State’s 2022 primary candidate list.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Great Waterleaf

Lora Conrad features a native perennial at different stages of development.

Great Waterleaf aka Appendaged Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum appendiculatum) is one of only two native Hydrophyllum species in Iowa. The other is Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), which Bleeding Heartland featured here.

Great Waterleaf is a native perennial that thrives in partial shade in rich woodlands. Most photos enclosed below were made on a north facing slope of wooded land just above the Des Moines River in Van Buren County. Others were made in a similar site in Lee County. According to BONAP, it is found more in the eastern two-thirds of Iowa.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: The Croton Unit of Shimek State Forest

Join Lora Conrad for a walk through the Croton Unit of Shimek State Forest to photograph and identify plants growing in this “premier woodland wildflower location.”

“Shimek State Forest is located in Lee and Van Buren counties in southeast Iowa. The forest served as a base for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s and 1940s, where they planted thousands of acres of hardwoods and conifers for demonstration purposes. Named after early Iowa conservationist Dr. Bohumil Shimek, the forest offers bountiful outdoor recreation opportunities… ”

So goes the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ understated introduction to Shimek State Forest which is 9,448 acres spread across five forest units.

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