Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Missouri gooseberry (wild gooseberry)

Spring flowers are exploding across Iowa. If you’re out in the woods this coming week, expect to see plenty of violets, spring beauties, sweet William, and littleleaf buttercup or larger buttercups. If you’re lucky, you may see some bellwort or Jack-in-the-pulpits too. Toothwort and Virginia bluebells are fading in my corner of central Iowa, but sweet Cicely and May apples (umbrella plants) are starting to bloom, and buds have formed on wild geranium and Virginia waterleaf.

Today’s featured flowering plant is a shrub native to much of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. In Iowa, it usually blooms in April or May. Missouri gooseberry (Ribes missouriense) plants produce fruit that is sour but edible for humans. However, it’s a challenge to harvest the berries before the birds pick the bushes clean.

After the pictures of Missouri gooseberry, I’ve enclosed a couple of shots of another shrub you are likely to see flowering in Iowa woods now. Unfortunately, those sweet-smelling honeysuckle plants are considered invasive.

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

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Striped cream violet (striped white violet)

Aside from dandelions, violets are probably the wildflowers most likely to turn up in Iowa yards, whether you live in the city, suburb, or countryside. Common blue violet (Viola sororia) is prevalent and blooming in large numbers now. I see quite a few Downy yellow violets (Viola pubescens) near wooded areas of Windsor Heights. Today’s featured plant is native to Iowa and most states to our east, but according to John Pearson of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, it is relatively rare in our state.

I enclose below more pictures of Striped cream violet (Viola striata) in the company of other spring wildflowers.

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

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Pasque flower

Pasque flowers (Anemone patens) are native to much of North America and derive their common name from the French word for Easter, because they are often blooming around the time of that holiday. I’ve never seen today’s featured wildflower, also known as Eastern Pasque Flower, Prairie Crocus, or Cutleaf Anemone. Fortunately, Iowa naturalist and photographer Eileen Miller found a patch of them a couple of weeks ago at Brushy Creek State Recreation Area in Webster County. She agreed to share some of her pictures and her description of the plant here.

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

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Early spring mix

First spring beauty of 2016

As bloodroot blossoms fade, an explosion of early spring wildflowers begins. Almost every day lately, I have noticed new wildflowers in Windsor Heights. Instead of focusing on one native plant today, I’ve enclosed below pictures of flowers you are likely to see in wooded areas this coming week, as well as a "preview of coming attractions": stems and leaves of plants that will flower within the next month or two.

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

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday returns: Bloodroot

The fifth year of Bleeding Heartland’s Iowa wildflower Wednesday series kicks off with the native plant that got the ball rolling in 2012. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is native almost everywhere in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Follow me after the jump for more pictures of one of the first spring wildflowers to bloom in Iowa woodlands.

This post is also a mid-week open thread: all topics welcome. I recommend the Iowa Wildflower Report and Raccoon River Watershed public Facebook groups for native plant lovers and nature photographers.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Heath aster and Calico aster

After today’s installment, Iowa wildflower Wednesday is signing off for the winter and will return sometime in March or April. All previous posts in the series are archived here. I often hear positive feedback about the wildflower diaries. To my surprise, one that struck a chord with lots of readers this year featured Poison hemlock and Wild parsnip, a pair of potentially harmful invasive plants.

Guest authors are welcome to contribute posts anytime at Bleeding Heartland. Please get in touch if you would like to be part of Iowa wildflower Wednesday during 2016. I’d be particularly grateful if some talented photographer could capture usable shots of "plants that got away" from me: Cardinal flower (Red Lobelia), Four O’Clock, Purple poppy mallow, or Common rose mallow. I never get any depth or definition on flowers with red or deep pink petals.

In keeping with a Bleeding Heartland tradition, I’m closing out this year’s series with asters, some of which are among the latest-blooming fall wildflowers. Click through to see New England asters and Frost asters (I think) from 2012, 2013, and 2014.

According to Elizabeth Hill, the first plants you’ll see after the jump are Heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides). I took those pictures in early October at the Grinnell College Conard Environmental Research Area. Elizabeth deserves a lot of credit for Iowa wildflower Wednesday’s existence, because she inspired me to learn more about native plants.

Iowa naturalist and photographer Leland Searles identified the next plant featured today as a subspecies of Calico Aster called Symphiotrichum lateriflorum ssp. lateriflorum. They are growing near the bank of North Walnut Creek in Windsor Heights.

I have trouble distinguishing aster species with white ray flowers and yellow disk flowers, so a few mystery plants are pictured below too. They include some unidentified asters I found today just off the Windsor Heights bike trail, behind the Iowa Department of Natural Resources building on Hickman Road. Last weekend’s snowfall finished off the last few flowering black-eyed Susans and brown-eyed Susans, but even now, a few asters are in full bloom.

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