Katie Byerly

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 Haden 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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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Lesser fringed gentian

Katie Byerly has a knack for finding rare native plants. She’s also on YouTube at Iowa Prairie Girl. -promoted by Laura Belin

Serious birders compile a “Life List.” A list of all the bird species they have ever encountered.

When I seriously started studying Iowa wildflowers three years ago, I soon realized that finding a fall gentian is considered a bonus during a wildflower search. I remember being thrilled finding my first bottle gentian. As I added more gentian to my “life list”–cream, stiff, and downy–it began to seem as if the elusive fringed gentian, which inspired so many, was eluding me.

Finally this August, I was so pleased when I stumbled upon a fringed gentian in a wonderful little fen located in the southeast corner of Cerro Gordo County. It turned out to be Lesser fringed gentian (Gentianopsis virgata), sometimes known as smaller fringed gentian.

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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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