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The Curious, Colorful Life of Wildflowers


Pasqueflower (Anemone patens) and Shootingstar (Dodecatheon conjugens)

The prairie spans surprisingly diverse terrain – hills, ravines, creeks and ponds, rocky outcrops, and rolling grasslands. Spring to fall, the nooks and crannies of the prairie are home to wildflowers in all shades of the rainbow. Each flower is a tiny specialist, growing in unique conditions related to moisture, slope, and soil types — turning hikes into lessons on glaciers, chemistry, hydrology and beyond. In May, hillsides suddenly burst into the yellow of golden pea, only for the bright blooms to disappear weeks later along with the spring rainstorms that brought them to life. Now, lucky visitors might catch a glimpse of evening primrose or the surprisingly delicate orange blossom of prickly pear cactus.

Wildflowers are a special treat for creatures big and small, and they are a colorful reminder of the many secrets that the prairie holds for those that slow down long enough to spot the savvy, vibrant adaptations of life on the Northern Plains. Experience more shades of spring and summer in our new flower photo gallery below.

Photo: Dennis Lingohr/American Prairie