Kansas flora: enjoying nature’s gift

Every late spring, in the pastures surrounding our house, beautiful wildflowers pop up everywhere. I have always been fascinated with picking and arranging these flowers. These wild blooms are so dainty and full of texture; and there’s something really therapeutic about walking through a pasture, picking flowers and then being the one to create an arrangement with your selections.

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Generally speaking, the same flowers grow over and over in the pastures, and since I’ve always been interested in knowing more about and studying plants, (I once created an entire sketchbook dedicated to sketching and writing down interesting facts about various native grasses…) I thought it might be fun to photograph and identify each of the native flowers surrounding our home.

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Sulfur Cinquefoil Perennial, 12-30 inches Flowers from May to June Interesting fact: Native Americans applied the crushed leaves and stems of sulphur cinquefoil to open wounds and sores. Deer and sheep eat sulphur cinquefoil.

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Purple Poppy Mallow Perennial Flowers from April through August Interesting fact: The Lakota and Dakota burned the dried roots and inhaled the smoke as a treatment for colds. The roots were also boiled and used for a tea to treat intestinal pains.fact:

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Goldenrod  Perennial 4-24 inches Interesting fact: Native Americans used the blossoms to treat fevers and used the stems to make baskets.

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Western Yarrow  Perennial 8-36 inches Flowers from June through September Interesting fact: Native Americans used yarrow for a wide variety of medicinal purposes, including remedies for coughs, colds, throat irritations, toothaches, respiratory diseases, and to treat wounds and stop bleeding.

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Philadelphia Fleabane  Short-lived perennial 8-28 inches Flowers May through July Interesting fact: Some Native American groups used Philadelphia fleabane medicinally to treat colds, diarrhea, and sores.

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Image via MDC Discovery Nature


Musk Thistle  Biennial 1.5 to 9 feet tall Blooms May through August Interesting Facts: Native of southern Europe; imported into the U.S. for floral gardens in the early 1900’s. Escaped and now widespread. This is actually considered a noxious weed in Kansas; so while the flowers are an attractive shade of purple-y pink, we do our best to chop these down or spray them.

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Deptford Pink  Annual 6-24 inches Flowers May through July Interesting Fact: This is a relative of the carnation. “Pink” is thought by some to refer to the jagged petal tips which appear “pinked”, as with pinking scissors. These are more scarce than the others here in Central Kansas, but are my favorite variety!

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Alfalfa  Perennial 1-3 feet Interesting Facts: Alfalfa has a remarkable capacity to rapidly regenerate new stems and leaves following cutting. Multiple cuttings can be made during a single growing season because of this frequent regeneration.Green leafy alfalfa hay is very nutritious and is a great feed for livestock. It is also rich in vitamins A, E, D and K.

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