Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Venus' looking glass (Clasping bellwort)

Today’s featured plant eluded me for years. I rarely came across it at the right time, and when Mike Delaney led me to some plants in bloom on one visit to his restored prairie in Dallas County, the flowers came out looking blue in most of my images. (I later learned this is a common problem when photographing purple flowers.)

With an assist from members of the Iowa Wildflower Report Facebook group, I am pleased to present Venus’ looking glass (Triodanis perfoliata). The common name tells you right away this one’s a beauty. Sometimes known as clasping bellwort or clasping Venus’ looking glass, this plant is native to most of the U.S. In Iowa, it typically blooms sometime in June.

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Brent’s Trail: Envisioning a state trail through the Loess Hills of western Iowa

Patrick Swanson describes a project to highlight “the unusual geology and scenic value of the Loess Hills, their importance as a wildlife corridor and a home to the largest tracts of native remnant prairie left in the state, and the presence of many protected areas along the backbone of the hills.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Earlier this month, I attended the dedication of Brent’s Trail, a new eight-mile hiking trail in Harrison County, near the town of Little Sioux, that links Murray Hill Scenic Overlook, Loess Hills State Forest, and Gleason-Hubel Wildlife Area.

The idea of a long-distance trail through the Loess Hills was envisioned by Brent Olson, whose career as area forester for the Loess Hills State Forest spanned 25 years before his untimely death in 2016 from cancer at age 53. His vision was championed by those who followed to create such a trail and name it in his honor.

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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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