Katie Byerly

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A visit to the Hansen Wildlife Area

Katie Byerly shares photos of more than a dozen plants flowering in Cerro Gordo County’s Hansen Wildlife Area. Katie is also known as Iowa Prairie Girl on YouTube.

Thanks to Dave and Patty Hansen, Cerro Gordo County has a new beautiful community prairie! This spring the Hansen Wildlife Area was opened to the public, and as part of the celebration the North Iowa Nature Club toured the prairie with Dave and Patty has our guides.

The Hansen Wildlife Area is located on B20 north of Clear Lake, Iowa between Cardinal and Dogwood. It is already well marked with the usual brown sign and right away to a small parking area.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A visit to the Rock Creek Wildlife Area

Katie Byerly shares photos of more than 20 plants flowering in northern Iowa’s lovely Rock Creek Wildlife Area. Katie is also known as Iowa Prairie Girl on YouTube.

Last week I was fortunate to have time off on a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the low 80s. So on June 29, I loaded up my two yellow labradors, Prairie Dog and Meadow, and headed to the Rock Creek Wildlife Area five miles south of Osage (Mitchell County).

I was introduced to the Rock Creek area last summer while attending a Master Conservationist Course sponsored by the Iowa State University Extension Office. The mycountyparks.com website describes the area as 160 acres of wetland, restored prairie, upland and riparian forest with Rock Creek flowing through the central part of the area.

Be warned: after parking in a typical small county park parking lot, you have to cross Rock Creek by foot. The two previous trips I had made to Rock Creek the water was ankle deep and there are large rocks you can maneuver on to avoid wet feet.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Cream gentian

Katie Byerly features a delicate plant that blooms in the late summer.

There are more than 400 gentian species globally, with most growing in the mountains in Europe. In Iowa one might be lucky to find seven different species of gentian. Six of those have brilliant bluish purple flowers. Then there is Cream Gentian (Gentiana alba), also called Pale, Plain, or Yellow Gentian. Cream gentian flowers can be an off-white creamy color, or a yellowish white or a greenish white.

No matter what color you find, all flowers share the greenish yellow venation on the petals.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Common mullein

Common Mullein, Great Mullein and Woolly Mullein are all names for the same plant, a non-native weed introduced from Europe in the early 1800s. It has spread so widely that it is now considered naturalized. Common mullein can be found in all 50 states, and even though it is a weed, it is not pesty (at least not in Iowa).

Of all the Iowa wildflowers, this plant has some of the most fun nicknames, including Cowboy Toiletpaper, Quaker’s Rouge, Torch Flower, Flannel Plant, Tinder Plant, and Aaron’s Rod.

If you are a wildflower enthusiast, someone not familiar with common mullein may ask you, “What is that tall fuzzy plant that I saw on the side of the road?”

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Purple rattlesnake-root (Glaucous white lettuce)

Katie Byerly, also known as Iowa Prairie Girl, profiles a rare, beautiful plant native to 20 states and most of Canada. -promoted by Laura Belin

I was walking through Ada Hayden Prairie in Howard County, Iowa, the first time I saw Purple rattlesnake-root (Prenanthes racemosa). Anytime I see a new plant I find myself thinking out loud “I wonder what that is?” But the first time I saw purple rattlesnake-root, sometimes called Glaucous white lettuce, it hadn’t bloomed yet and my wondering was more like “what the in the world is that??!” And maybe a few other words too.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Rough blazing star

Katie Byerly features an eye-catching sight on the late summer prairie. -promoted by Laura Belin

As other wildflowers are beginning to fade, Rough blazing star (Liatris aspera) is just getting started. Also called tall blazing star, this unbranched, upright plant grows to be between 2 and 5 feet tall, according to Illinois Wildflowers

Rough blazing star blossoms in a spike-like arrangement of pink to purple flowerheads up and down the stem. This spike adds wonderful electric rosy purple color to the natural scenescape.

Rough blazing star flowers start blooming at the upper tip of the plant in July. This first photo shows a monarch butterfly getting nutrients from a rough blazing star just starting to bloom.

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