Katie Byerly

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Cylindrical blazing star

Katie Byerly has a knack for finding unusual wildflowers. She also posts regularly on her Iowa Prairie Girl YouTube channel. -promoted by Laura Belin

During a camping trip in Floyd County with my son’s Boy Scout troop, I was pleasantly surprised to find this miniature blazing star growing everywhere on the dry clay hills of the Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve, located one mile west of Rockford on County Road B47.

Cylindrical blazing star (Liatris Cylindracea) is also known as Cylindric, Barrelhead, Dwarf or Ontario blazing star.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Purplestem Angelica

Katie Byerly shares her images of an amazing plant that she calls, “The Giant in the Wildflower World.” promoted by Laura Belin

Purplestem Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea) towers over the other wildflowers at Wilkinson Park in Rock Falls, Iowa. It creates a beautiful background border to the wild roses blooming at the same time. These giant plants also stand in line along the edge of the Shell Rock River creating a unique view to the river from the park and visa versa river into the park.

Purplestem Angelica can be found in the northern counties of Iowa, and as you drive into Minnesota, you may see it in many moist ditches and river edges.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Stiff Gentian

Katie Byerly shares her knowledge and photographs of yet another wildflower I’ve never seen in the wild. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In his book The Secrets of Wildflowers, Jack Sanders calls Gentians the Royal Family of Wildflowers. Gentians are named after King Gentius, who ruled as the last Illyrian King from 181 to 168 BCE. It is believed that Gentius discoverd medicinal value from the plant and used it as an antidote to poison and in the dressing of wounds.

If we follow the belief that Gentians are the royal family of the wildflowers, I’d like to imagine the handsome King Fringed Gentian ruling his flower kingdom with his beautiful pale Queen Cream Gentian at his side. His brother Prince Bottled Gentian leads the flower army and is known for his strength. And then there is their rigid cousin Duke Stiff Gentian … he is often overlooked as part of the Gentian family as he quietly rules his northern counties.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Grass of Parnassus

Katie Byerly shares her images of a rare wetland plant she researched and photographed this summer. -promoted by desmoinesdem

“It’s pinstriped!” was a comment regarding my picture of Grass of Parnassus, posted in the Iowa Wildflower Report Facebook group. Its green-veined petals makes this plant easy to identify… if you can find it.

Marsh Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia glauca), also called Fen Grass of Parnassus or Bog-Stars, grows in wet calcareous habitats like fens, open ground water seepage areas, and wet prairies. The Minnesota Wildflowers and Illinois Wildflowers webpages both comment on the rarity of these habitats and subsequently this flower. Calcareous means to contain calcium carbonate occurring on chalk or limestone, and that’s exactly where I found my grass of Parnassus.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Small white lady's slipper

Nature enthusiast and talented photographer Katie Byerly shares images of a gorgeous and rare native plant. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Finding a new wildflower is always a treat. I was treated this spring when a wildflower friend, Ken Plagge, called to tell me that he had found a Small white lady’s slipper at Wilkinson Pioneer Park in Rock Falls (Cerro Gordo County). Also called White moccasin flower, Small white lady’s slipper (Cypripedium candidum) is a native orchid often associated with the words “rare” and “threatened.” It is found in prairie fens and wet/mesic prairies.

However, the treat did not end there. Ken and I soon found out from the Cerro Gordo County Conservation team that this flower’s presence had never been recorded at Wilkinson Pioneer Park. A short 24 hours after first seeing the plant, we were meeting with Mark Leoschke, a state botanist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, to help document the white lady’s slipper’s existence in Rock Falls.

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