Lora Conrad

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: American pokeweed (Poke)

I learned a lot from Lora Conrad‘s pictures and commentary about a native plant that some consider a nuisance. -promoted by Laura Belin

Do you call it Pokeweed or Pokesalad? That tells your attitude about Poke—do you yank it out / cut it down, or do you look forward to clipping young leaves and cooking them (carefully) as a side dish?

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) also has numerous other, though less common names, including pokeberry, polk salad, and poke sallet, both of which seem to be corruptions of poke salad. The name “Poke” most likely comes from the Algonquian word pokan, meaning bloody.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Prairie trillium (Trillium recurvatum)

Lora Conrad shares spectacular photographs of a hard-to-find spring wildflower. -promoted by Laura Belin

The first spring you spot one in bloom, you will be spellbound. A strange but enthralling flower with sepals down and petals up in an unlikely maroon or wine-red color atop three mottled leaves on a single skinny scape perhaps a foot high. You’ve just found a Trillium recurvatum!

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Wahoo

Many thanks to Lora Conrad for wrapping up this year’s wildflower series with an informative piece about a beautiful tree. Iowa wildflower Wednesday will return sometime during the spring of 2019. Happy Thanksgiving to the Bleeding Heartland community! -promoted by desmoinesdem

Driving along a rocky dusty Iowa back road along the banks of the Des Moines River in Van Buren County about eighteen years ago, I spotted the brightest possible pink glowing from a small tree amid the drab, frost-killed brush….. and came to an immediate stop (it’s a very quiet road.) There this rather frail, otherwise naked little tree sat with probably a hundred bright seed pods beginning to burst open. What could it be?

Upon talking with an elderly neighbor native to the area, I learned it was commonly called a Wahoo – a name that is an appropriate expression when one sees its unusual beauty for the first time. However, the word Wahoo probably derives from a Dakota word meaning “arrow-wood.”

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Deptford Pink

Thanks to Lora Conrad for sharing these gorgeous pictures. -promoted by desmoinesdem

One summer about 15 years ago, I was walking a path at the Pioneer Ridge Nature Center near Ottumwa and saw among the green plants one stunningly bright, tiny pink flower. Finding out what it was took years! It was not listed in any of the wildflower reference books I had at the time. After seeing more of the tiny bright flowers over the years and then obtaining internet access to wildflower databases, my efforts produced a name and its origins. The brilliant little Deptford pink (Dianthus armeria) is indeed wild, naturalized and, according to uswildflowers.com, is found sprinkled about in 47 of the 50 states—but it is not native to North America. It’s from Europe and is fairly common in western and central Europe but in decline in England.

Its name came from a case of mistaken identity by a 17th century botanist who described another Dianthus that was common around Deptford, England at the time.

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