Wildflowers: Purples, Blues & Reds

Dotted Gayfeather

Dotted Gayfeather

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Blazing Star, Dotted Button-Snakeroot, Starwort
General: Native Perennial; A late comer to the area, appears in August and can extend into October. Found mainly in grasslands and roadsides. Flowers grow up and down the top half of the stem with the flowers densely clustered about the stem. Deep taproot evident like with many of the native species allowing it to be drought resistant. Scarlet Gaura

Scarlet Gaura

Family: Evening Primrose Family, Onagraceae
A.K.A.: Wild Honeysuckle, Butterfly Weed
General: Native Perennial; One of a number of primroses inhabiting the area. Usually tall reaching about one foot in height with pinkish to scarlet flowers found on a spike. Flowers have a nice fragrance. Western Wild Rose

Western Wild Rose

Family: Rose Family
General: Native Shrub; Very pretty flower residing on a bush. This native produces a pleasant odor which cultivated varieties of the rose seem to be losing. Has thorns on lower stems so be careful.
Neat Stuff: Fruits are called rose hips and are a valuable winter food for wildlife. Wild roses hybridize so easily that there are about 100 species simply called wild roses. Showy Peavine

Showy Peavine

Family: Bean Family, Fabaceae
A.K.A.: Hoary Peavine, Wild or Sweet Pea
General: Native Perennial; Early flowering plant can be found along edge of Center front lawn. Common state wide, plant does not grow much more than six inches in height. Flowers are pink to violet in color.
Neat Stuff: Toxic to grazing animals. A disease named Lathyrism occurs if large amounts of the plant is eaten. Paralysis of limbs is a common symptom of the disorder. to the top Narrowleaf Penstemon

Narrowleaf Penstemon

Family: Figwort Family, Scrophulariaceae
General: Inhabits variety of dry to moist locations, usually in sandy soils. Narrow leaves lacking toothed margins help distinguish this flower from the close relative, the Crested Beardtongue.
Neat Stuff: A close relative of this flower is the Blowout Penstemon or Hayden's Penstemon found in the sandhills region of the state. It is currently listed as an endangered species. There are 250 species of Penstemons in North America. Wooly Verbena

Wooly Verbena

Family: Vervain Family
A.K.A.: Hoary Vervain, Hoary Verbena
Photos Taken: 7/1 at Wildcat Hills and Buffalo Creek
General: Native Perennial; Flowers from June to August and easily found along the Center trails. In some locations you can find large patches of this plant. Reaches heights of three feet or more with multiple erect stiff stems. A terminal spike contains the flowers. The flowers of the spike mature from the bottom to the top. Has a deep root system allowing it to resist drought conditions.
Neat Stuff: Grazers avoid this plant because of bitter tasting juices. A relative found in the east has been used for a variety of purposes including treatments for stomach aches and hardened arteries. Black Samson

Black Samson

Family: Sunflower family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Pale Purple Coneflower
General: Used frequently in gardens and, like a number of others in the area, introduced by the roads department for revegitation after road work is complete. Plains Indians used the plant for a number of medicinal purposes including as a salve for wounds, tooth ache relief and even for mumps. The root seems to have been the most useful part of the plant for the medicinal uses. Showy Milkweed

Showy Milkweed

Family: Milkweed Family, Asclepiadaceae
General: Native Perennial; Occurs primarily along roadsides and moist places, explaining why you are more likely to find it at Buffalo Creek than the Center. Tall plant with large clusters of flowers, probably the most common milkweed in the plains. Produces large pods of seeds that have an umbrella like structure allowing the seeds to be dispersed by the wind.
Neat Stuff: Early settlers collected the feathery seeds to stuff pillows and mattresses. The seeds acting in very similar fashion to down. Breadroot Scurfpea

Breadroot Scurfpea

Family: Bean Family, Fabaceae
A.K.A.: Indian Breadroot, Prairie Apple or Potato
General: Native Perennial; A treat to find at the center, not because it is any prettier than most but because it is becoming less frequent in the western part of the state. A definate no-no to pick. Plant has a deep tap root of up to five inches. Short plant small purple flowers in a cluster at the top. Our current pics don't show the color well. Leaves similar to many in having small hairs covering surface.
Neat Stuff: After the seeds ripen this plant acts somewhat like a "tumble weed" in that the plant breaks off at the ground and then blows in the wind, thus spreading its seeds. Roots were a food staple for many plains indians. Skeletonweed


Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Rush or Prairie Pink, Rush Skeleton Plant
General: Native Perennial; Flowers in June, found along Center trails but is rather inconspicuous. Attracted to sunny, disturbes sites. Stems resemble many of the grasses that grow in the same areas. Identification made easy if the flower is present although there are not many at any one time.
Neat Stuff: Later in the summer you will be able to observe numerous bulbs on the lower stems. These bulbs and called galls and are created as a response by the plant to egg deposits from a wasp. Eggs are layed in the stem and as the larva develop the gall is created. We also found that hardened sap of this plant was used as chewing gum by Plains indians, the sap turns blue upon chewing. to the top Flodman's Thistle

Flodman's Thistle

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Prairie Thistle
General: Native Perennial; Found in disturbed sites around the center and along roadsides. Like other thistles can also be found in overgrazed areas in the Panhandle. Unlike several of the other thistles of the area, Flodman's Thistle is a native. It acts as a pioneer plant helping to recolonize disturbed grasslands. It does not compete well with native grasses. Bees are important pollinators. Scarlet Globe Mallow

Scarlet Globe Mallow

Family: Mallow Family, Malvaceae
A.K.A.: Cowyboy's Delight, Moss Rose
General: Native Perennial; Very pretty, orange, low lying flower frequently found along paths to the north and west of the Center. flowers from May to August making it one of the longer lived flowers of the area.
Neat Stuff: Reportedly, Dakota medicine men created a paste from this plant and coated their hands with it to make them immune to scalding water thus being able to take hot meal out of a kettle. One has to wonder why, I found no answers. Some members of this genus are eaten by mule deer. Cotton and hollyhocks are related species. Prairie Spiderwort

Prairie Spiderwort

Family: Spiderwort Family, Commelinaceae
General: Native Perennial; Flowers from May to June, found in disturbed areas along Center trails. Easily spotted because of its purple flower that rises nearly a foot from the ground. In most cases the top of the plant may contain several flowers in various stages. Leaves extend from the base and are narrow and long.
Neat Stuff: Flowers close in the heat of the day. Transplants into gardens fairly easily. Stems contain a juice that can be drawn into slender threads that resemble spiders silk. Silvery Lupine

Silvery Lupine

Family: Bean Family
A.K.A.: Field Bindweed, Creeping Jenny
General: Native Perennial; Another favorite found in the Nebraska Panhandle. A bit hard to find at the Center, found more frequently in grassy areas to the north and east at Buffalo Creek and also along many roads in the Panhandle. Plants can grow up to a foot, the plants in the photo were about eight inches in height. Leafs contain 6-9 leaflets with hairs on the underside. Color usually violet but does vary. Blue Lettuce

Blue Lettuce

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
General: Native perennial, yet another member of the sunflower family. As you will, or may have already discovered, not all members of the sunflower family look like sunflowers on the surface. Flowers from June to August and usually inhabits moister areas of the Center region (for instance like Buffalo Creek to the east). Can grow to four feet and is one of three species found in Nebraska. The genus name for this flower is Lactuca, a reference to the milky substance that is contained within its stems. Bush Morning Glory

Bush Morning Glory

Family: Morning Glory Family, Convolvulaceae
A.K.A.: Man-root, Man of the Earth, Bush Moon Flower
General: Native Perennial; Bushes of this plant are evident well before flowering occurs. There are numerous plants along the trails leading to the west from the rear of the Center. Like many inhabitants of the area, are attracted to dry, sandy or gravelly soils and disturbed sites.
Neat Stuff: Plains indians reportedly used the root for food. The Pawnee used the root for smoke treatments to relieve nervousness and bad dreams. One of its most prominant features that you won't observe is its tap root that can be over 18 inches in diameter at the top and up to four feet long! to the top Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

Family: Caper Family, Capparaceae
A.K.A.: Spider Flower, Indian Pink, Stink Flower, Pink Cleome
General: Native Annual; Another favorite occuring later in the summer from Late July into August and September. Also commonly seen along roadsides. Attracted to disturbes sites, it colonizes well under less than ideal circumstances.
Neat Stuff: The flowers produce large quantities of nectar, attracting the bees that give the plant its common name. Some Indians are said to have used boiled leaves as greens or treatments for stomach problems. Early Spanish settlers reportedly ground the seeds as a substitute for flour. Wild Bergamot

Wild Bergamot

Family: Mint Family, Lamiaceae
A.K.A.: Horsemint, Beebalm, Oswego Tea
General: Native Perennial; Really neat flower found later in the summer from July to August. The pictures were taken at Cedar Canyon to the west but there is a fairly large patch growing toward the end of the long trail. It resides back in the shadows, in the cooler areas of the Wildcats. Tall, reaching 2-3 feet in height locally. Flowers located at the end of the stalk.
Neat Stuff: Leaves are known to provide relief of abdominal pains when made into a tea. Other uses include treatments for pimples, and seasoning for food having a flavor similar to oregano. Purple Prairie Clover

Purple Prairie Clover

Family: Bean Family, Fabaceae
A.K.A.: Thimbleweed, Red Tassel Flower, Violet Prairie Clover
General: Native Perennial; Although more common in the east we have found this one locally. The pictures were taken at the base of Stage hill on the north side along Hwy 71. Found later in the summer from July to August but it was nearly September before we noticed it.
Neat Stuff: Great forage for livestock and native grazers alike, however, does not respond well to grazing pressures. Like its white cousin was also used to make tea and dried stems used for brooms. Prostrate Vervain

Prostrate Vervain

Family: Verbenaceae, the Vervain family
General: This little flower is hard to see simply because it is very small. The plant itself can be fairly large and grow close to the ground spreading over a large area but the flowers are so small they are easy to miss. This species can be found virtually everywhere in North America in roadside ditches and disturbed areas. Here at the Center they can be found in the areas next to the roads. Related to the much taller and much more visible Wooly Verbena found in abundance here at the Center. Pincushion Cactus

Pincushion Cactus

Family: Cactus Family, Cactaceae
A.K.A.: Ball, Purple, Nipple and Cushion Cactus
General: Native Perennial; Without a doubt the top of our favorite list. A challenge to find both due to its small three inch stature and its extremely short flowering period. In the Wildcat area the flowering time is around three days so if you visit the center on Saturday the flower of the pincushion may come and go before next Saturday! We were very fortunate to stumble across this one. This cactus is not common in the east. Blue Lobelia

Blue Lobelia

Family: Bellflower Family, Campanulaceae
A.K.A.: Blue Cardinal Flower, Great or Big Lobelia
General: Native Perennial; Another August bloomer, however, not one you are likely to see at the Center due to its preference for moist habitats. This plant is becoming more frequent in the western part of the state. Tall, reaching two feet or more in height. Flowers located on the top of the stem, five petals split two and three.
Neat Stuff: Species name is siphilitica. Name refers to a substance found in the plant that has been used as a treatment for syphilis. Contains a substance called lobiline which is toxic. Many alkaloids isolated from the plant are closely related to nicotine. to the top