# Wildflowers



Recap of Iowa wildflower Wednesdays from 2022

The eleventh year of Bleeding Heartland’s wildflowers series was the most difficult for me by far. A catastrophic ankle fracture early in the year made it hard to get out on the trails and prairies that have provided most of my source material over the years.

I’ve never been more grateful for the guest authors and photographers who helped me keep the series going most weeks. In alphabetical order: Katie Byerly, Lora Conrad, Paul Laning, Bruce Morrison, Diane Porter, Leland Searles, and Kenny Slocum. Thanks also to Kurt Meyer for highlighting monarch and Baltimore checkerspot butterflies, which need native plants to thrive.

This series will return sometime during April or May of 2023. Please reach out if you have photographs to share, especially of native plants I haven’t featured yet. The full archive of nearly 300 posts featuring more than 240 wildflower species is available here.

For those looking for wildflower pictures year round, or seeking help with plant ID, check out the Facebook groups Flora of Iowa or Iowa wildflower enthusiasts. If you’d like a book to take with you on nature outings, Lora Conrad reviewed some of the best wildflower guides last year. A few were co-authored by Sylvan Runkel, whose biography I wholeheartedly recommend. A book featuring plants native to our area is probably more reliable than the plant ID app on your phone.

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The Baltimore checkerspot and the turtlehead

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

It’s human nature to regard your home community as special, distinctive, or unique in one way or another. I’ve always seen my rural community in this light, although some claims to fame are rather small.

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On gratitude and Sylvan Runkel

This post was supposed to be a book review.

I bought a copy of Sylvan T. Runkel: Citizen of the Natural World at the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat in September, thinking it would be perfect to review for my Iowa wildflowers series. Runkel co-authored some of the best Iowa wildflower guides, and I’ve used Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands and Wildflowers of the Tall Grass Prairie countless times.

Co-authors Larry Stone and Jon Stravers both knew Runkel and interviewed many of his friends, relatives, and former colleagues while researching their biography. As expected, I learned a lot about how the famous conservationist grew to love the outdoors and became passionate about native plants and natural landscapes.

The book also struck a chord with me as I’ve been coping with the most physically challenging year of my life.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Autumn in southeast O'Brien County

Bruce Morrison is a working artist and photographer living with his wife Georgeann in rural southeast O’Brien County, Iowa. Bruce works from his studio/gallery – a renovated late 1920s brooding house/sheep barn. You can follow Morrison on his artist blog, Prairie Hill Farm Studio, or visit his website at Morrison’s studio.

I’ve heard many folks express that autumn is their favorite season. It has always been mine. 

Even as a youngster, when any sane kid would tag summer as a fav (for obvious reasons), I’d still long for autumn. The fall season had a siren song about it; maybe it was too short, leaving you wanting…longing for more; frost in the air, colors everywhere, and harvest time. But more than likely, it was all those things plus what young kids long to spend time for outdoors in autumn. 

"Yellow Ave, Up the Road from Donnie's Place" - photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison"Yellow Ave, Up the Road from Donnie's Place" - photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

“Yellow Ave, Up the Road from Donnie’s Place” – photograph – © Bruce A. Morrison

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Baldwin's ironweed

Diane Porter of Fairfield first published this post on My Gaia, a Substack newsletter “about getting to know nature” and “giving her a helping hand in our own backyards.” Diane also maintains the Birdwatching Dot Com website and bird blog.

When the first people walked on the tall grass prairie of North America, they found Baldwin’s Ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii). It can grow almost anywhere the sun shines, including on dry, rocky soil. It’s important for feeding butterflies, moths and especially native bees.

The blooming top looks like a natural bouquet of about a dozen flowers plus some buds that haven’t opened yet. Each one of what looks like individual flowers is actually a smaller bouquet, made up of 20-or-so tiny florets. (Floret = little flower.)

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Flowers of Octobers past

Some years, I find wildflowers still blooming this far into autumn. But I haven’t been out with my camera lately, and everything’s gone to seed along the wooded trail where I often walk my dog.

So I dove into my files and pulled out a selection of wildflowers I’ve found in October. I took most of these pictures in 2016, when unusually warm weather seemed to extend the blooming period for some species (and inspired me to spend more time on my bicycle).

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