MAY April-May: Most of the wildflowers that bloom in April and May are low, mat-forming plants that hug the ground. Their flowers are hard to see because they are only a few centimeters high, but are visible because the prairie is bare of other growing plants at this season. Look for Prairie Crocus, Moss Phlox, Early Cinquefoil, Three-flowered Avens, Early Blue Violet, Golden Bean, Prairie Onion, Field Chickweed, Pussytoes, Reflexed Rock Cress and the shrubs, Saskatoon-berry, Chokecherry, and Gooseberry. Prairie Crocus - Open Prairie The Prairie Crocus blooms before any other wild flower, pushing up its wooly green buds in April when the sun warms the soil. The inconspicuous buds open into showy laven- der and yellow flowers blooming close to the ground without trace of leaf or stem. The flowers soon fade and produce feathery seeds raised on a stalk to catch the wind, surrounded by a clump of finely cut leaves that persist well into summer. Moss Phlox - Open Prairie One of the earliest wildflowers is Moss Phlox, whose small white-lavender, 5- petaled flowers bloom in groups on the ground. Like most prairie wildflowers in May, the gray-green Moss Phlox grows so close to the ground that it is easily over- looked. It is most noticeable when little carpets of phlox flowers dot the prairie in May. Early Cinquefoil - Open Prairie About the time the Prairie Crocus flowers, | Early Cinquefoil с can be seen as a rosette of wooly, green leaves, | tightly tucked N together close to Y ) = the ground. In May bright yellow and orange, 5-petaled flowers appear among the expanding rosette of leaves. Early Cinquefoil is the first of the 7 species of cinquefoil to bloom at Saskatoon Natural Grasslands, some yellow, others white. Three-flowered Avens - Open Prairie Another wild- flower that will first be noticed as a green rosette of leaves on the brown spring prairie, 1s the Three-flowered Aven. In mid-May, flower stalks shoot up from the rosettes bearing the 3 drooping, rose- colored flowers that give this plant its name. These flowers raise their heads as the seeds, each with a long feathery tail, mature. Where these plants are numerous, the feathery seeds look like a pink haze, giving this plant another of its common names, Prairie Smoke. Early Blue Violet - Throughout Nestled in spots protected by last year’s dead vegetation, the vibrant, purple-blue flowers of Early Blue Violet may catch your eye. The plants are small and compact, making them difficult to spot until they flower. The small yellow-flowered violet, Nuttall’s Violet, also blooms on the open prairie in May. Golden Bean - Open Prairie The bright yellow flowers of the Golden Bean are tall and showy compared to the other spring wildflowers at Saska- toon Natural Grasslands. They appear in May, often in large numbers, as the prairie grasses begin to turn green. The large yellow flowers look like pea flowers and produce flat, curving pods that remain on the plants throughout the summer. (Not Edible) Prairie Onion, Field Chickweed, Pussytoes - Open Prairie Three small, white wildflowers to look for in May are Prairie Onion, Field Chickweed, and Pussytoes. The Prairie Onion, like a minia- ture garden onion, has thin grass-like leaves which make 1t difficult to see except when the clusters of white flowers bloom in mid- May. Flowers of Saskatoon Natural Grasslands Field Chickweed flowers look like white stars scattered among the prairie grass from May to July. | VY) \ PAL N 7 NN () © Ny / 7 Field Chickweed 4 N Гы uz Pussytoes are very low, gray-green plants that grow in mat-like patches on the open prairie. The flower stalks grow several centimeters above the mats in May. The clusters of dense wooly heads look like the bottom of a cat’s paw, giving this plant its name. Reflexed Rock Cress - Open Prairie The tall flower stalk of Reflexed Rock Cress blooms in early May. The flowers are small and white- purple, and soon develop into very narrow pods that resemble those of mustard, to which it is related. Unlike most prairie wildflowers, which are perennial, this plant is biennial, flowering during the second year of growth and then dying. Shrubs Several shrubs and the tree, Trembling Aspen, flower in May at Saskatoon Natural Grass- lands. Saskatoon- berry, Pussy Willow and Trembling Aspen flower before they fully leaf out and their flowers may be quite noticeable. Saskatoon-berry Chokecherry, Gooseberry and Wild Black Currant also flower in May, but after they leaf out. The patches of Saskatoon- berry bushes, largely ignored except at berry time, are trans- formed when the Gooseberry 5-petaled, apple- blossom-like flowers bloom on the nearly bare branches in May. The Chokecherry bush, with many small white flowers in long, pendulous clusters, blooms profusely in late May or early June. Chokecherry Common and Latin Names Prairie Crocus Anemone patens Moss Phlox Phlox hoodii Early Cinquefoil Potentilla concinna Three-flowered Avens Geum triflorum Early Blue Violet Viola adunca Golden Bean Thermopsis rhombifolia Prairie Onion Allium textile Field Chickweed Cerastium arvense Pussytoes Antennaria species Reflexed Rock Cress — Arabis holboelii Trembling Aspen Populus tremuloides Saskatoon-berry Amelanchier alnifolia Pussy Willow Salix discolor Chokecherry Prunus virginiana Gooseberry Ribes oxyacanthoides Wild Black Currant Ribes americanum Credits This brochure was made possible with funds and logistical support from the Saskatchewan Natural History Society and from the University of Saskatchewan, Extension Division. Gordon Silversides coordinated, Marilyn Neufeld did the typing, and Elfie Hall did the layout for graphics and text. Original illustrations were prepared by Anna Leighton; additional illustrations are reprinted with permission from Budd's Flora of the Canadian Prairie Provinces, Living Prairie Museum (Winnipeg, Manitoba), and Diane Magill and Carol Morgan of Prairie Habitat (Argyle, Manitoba). Anna Leighton wrote the text, supported by Dr. Vern Harms, who prepared two plant lists for the Saskatoon Natural Grasslands which were formerly known also as the Silverspring Prairie Preserve. Sources The following books were the primary sources used in preparing the text, and are recommended for further reading: Prairie Wildflowers by Lloyd T. Carmichael. Wildflowers Across the Prairie by F. R. Vance, J. R. Jowsey and J. S. McLean. Budd's Flora of the Canadian Prairie Provinces by J. Looman and K. F. Best.
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