Sunday, July 28, 2013

Prairie Flowers at St. Olaf Natural Lands

Today was such a gorgeous day -- downright chilly by normal July standards, but thoroughly refreshing and invigorating. I hadn't been over to the St. Olaf College natural lands for quite a while, and decided to visit the prairie restoration loop, which proved to be a sea of yellows and purples.

As has been typical this year, I hardly saw any butterflies and just a few bees. In the photo below, you can see orange pollen building up on the bee's "pollen basket" on its leg. The flower is purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea).

The tall yellow sunflower-like plant below is compass plant (Silphium laciniatum). The common name comes from the tendency of the lower leaves to align their edges in a north-south direction. The compass plant is said to be very long-lived, surviving as long as a century. Botanists use the term forb for herbs (non-woody plants) that are not grasses or grasslike, so the clover above and compass plant below would both be forbs.

I'm very much a beginner at dragonfly identification, but it looks to me as if the one below is a twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella). I've been seeing these quite often in recent outings. Today they zigged and zagged along the path ahead of me, rarely landing or staying long in a good spot for me to get a photo, so I was pleased to be able to get this one.

The forecast in southeastern Minnesota is for quite a few more pleasant days ahead, with highs only in the 70s F. and nightly lows mostly in the 50s. That's great sleeping weather, and perfect for getting out and about. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Dan Huber said...

Beautiful post and photos, looks like a wonderful spot to spend a day.