Plethora of Prairie Flowers

by Karen Schik

While a visit to a native prairie is rewarding at any time of year, I am especially fond of the early summer display found at dry prairies. The exuberant Birds Foot Violet brings a splash to the brown landscape of early spring, but it isnt until June that the big guns really come out with an eye-popping display of colors and bursting mounds of flowers. The unbeatable combination of Large-Flowered Pentsemon, Prairie Larkspur, and Hairy Puccoon will probably make you swoon. Add to that the delicate Slender Penstemon, tiny Bluets, lovely Spiderwort, cheery Prairie Phlox, enthusiastic Hoary Frostweed, and sunny Prairie Ragwort and you have a regular wildflower bonanza sure to make your heart stop. In fact, there should really be a warning sign at the entrance to the prairie – Caution: you are about to enter an area of explosive color. May take your breath away. Proceed at your own risk.

No doubt you are ready to jump on your bike right now to head to the nearest prairie remnant. Two of the most lovely places to visit in the Twin Cities are: Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area in Cottage Grove, and Hastings Sand Coulee SNA in Hastings. For information and directions to these sites visit the Minnesota DNR website.