Diane Porter

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Baldwin's ironweed

Diane Porter of Fairfield first published this post on My Gaia, a Substack newsletter “about getting to know nature” and “giving her a helping hand in our own backyards.” Diane also maintains the Birdwatching Dot Com website and bird blog.

When the first people walked on the tall grass prairie of North America, they found Baldwin’s Ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii). It can grow almost anywhere the sun shines, including on dry, rocky soil. It’s important for feeding butterflies, moths and especially native bees.

The blooming top looks like a natural bouquet of about a dozen flowers plus some buds that haven’t opened yet. Each one of what looks like individual flowers is actually a smaller bouquet, made up of 20-or-so tiny florets. (Floret = little flower.)

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: The ant and the trillium

Diane Porter of Fairfield first published this post on Birdwatching Dot Com.

Last week I found a big black ant rushing across my kitchen counter. Tightly clenched in its jaws was a Prairie Trillium seed, which was attached to a cream-colored swoop. The ant kept darting under the edges of objects. I tried to get it into view so I could get a picture. But the ant was too quick and agile for me.

I prodded at the seed with a toothpick, but the ant would not let go. We battled this way for a minute. I tried not to harm the ant, but clearly I was causing it aggravation. Ultimately it dropped the seed and disappeared into a crack at the edge of the sink. At least now I could study the seed.

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