Photo of the Week – April 22, 2016

Carolina anemone, aka windflower (Anemone caroliniana), is one of my favorite spring wildflowers.  Like many early bloomers, it’s beautiful but inconspicuous.  Despite its gorgeous flower color(s), it can be really hard to see unless you’re within a few feet of it.

The tiny, but beautiful windflower (Anemone caroliniana).

The tiny, but beautiful windflower (Anemone caroliniana).  It’s hard to enough to find it when it is blooming.  When it’s not, the leaves (foreground) are so small and inconspicuous, they are nearly impossible to spot.

Earlier this week, the Fellows, Nelson, and I spent a couple hours hiking our Platte River Prairies, practicing some plant identification and talking ecology and management.   I’d mentioned the anemone as a species we might see if we were lucky, but we didn’t find it.  After our hike but before I headed home, I decided to revisit a hill we’d hiked earlier because I wanted to photograph some groundplum (Astragalus crassicarpus) flowers there.  After I finished with the groundplum, I stood up and walked a few steps downhill, and there, not 10 feet from where the four of us had stood a few hours before, was a small patch of Carolina anemone.

There were only five plants and they were in various stages of blooming – and in various shades of blue.  I spent a few minutes photographing them and then called Evan (one of our Hubbard Fellows) in case he wanted to come see and photograph them too.  Evan said something about a friendly little contest…  After describing the location to him, I drove back to town.

Last night, Evan sent me four of the images he came away with from that little patch of windflowers.  Have I mentioned that he’s an excellent photographer?  Also, he cheated by finding and photographing a crab spider on one of the flowers WHICH IS TOTALLY UNFAIR!

Anyway, without making it an overt competition, here are four photos each from Evan and me.  It’s always fun and interesting to see how different photographers interpret the same subject matter.  In this case, notwithstanding Evan’s crab spider, WHICH HE PROBABLY PLANTED, we were working with the same five flowers.  I put my four photos first, followed by his four.

My photos…

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And now Evan’s photos…

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20160419_nebraska_2192

It sure is nice to be back in wildflower season again.  I’m glad to live at a latitude where we have a true winter dormant season, but part of the reason I like winter is that it increases my appreciation of the return of the growing season each year!

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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15 Responses to Photo of the Week – April 22, 2016

  1. marknupen says:

    this flower is similar to my Spring favorite, up here in Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area, Wisconsin. The Pasque flower, pulsatilla patens, [image: Inline image 1]

    On Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 9:28 AM, The Prairie Ecologist wrote:

    > Chris Helzer posted: “Carolina anemone, aka windflower (Anemone > caroliniana), is one of my favorite spring wildflowers. Like many early > bloomers, it’s beautiful but inconspicuous. Despite its gorgeous flower > color(s), it can be really hard to see unless you’re within a few f” >

  2. Pat says:

    As much as I like crab spiders, Chris you aced it. Your macro shots are the tops.

  3. Joanne says:

    Summing it all up in one word — Beautiful!

  4. Margaret Smith says:

    We had a couple of months of dormancy in middle Georgia where I lived for many years, and spring brought out a beautiful assortment of wildflowers. I lived in Pine Mountain where the Callaway Gardens is located, and they had a huge area of trails where all sorts of wild flowers were growing. Beautiful
    !

  5. Nancy Reese says:

    All beautiful flowers from both photographers. The spider IS a bonus! Have you seen any of the puccoons, hairy or hairy or the other one? I found two in our pasture a week ago.

  6. dianecporter says:

    This is such a pleasure to read and see. Now I will watch for this flower. First I must go look up its preferred habitat.

  7. savannagal says:

    Windflowers pop up in my lawn. But I was told they are non-native, from Africa I think. Do you know of any obvious identifiers I could use to tell a non-native from a native windflower? I’m in a northwest suburb of Chicago.

    • James McGee says:

      You have asked a very difficult question that is beyond my capabilities. The Anemone you are seeing in your lawn is almost certainly A. blanda (Grecian Windflower). This plant is commonly sold by growers of bulbs. Here is a page about their presence in New England.

      https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/species/anemone/blanda/

      The difficultly is how to differentiate this introduced non-native plant from the native A. caroliniana. I am not finding Anemone blanda listed in any of my botanical manuals. The description of A. caroliniana in “Cronquist and Gleason” appears to perfectly match A. blanda. Although I am sure the plants have differences, I am having trouble identifying and describing them.

      • James McGee says:

        I see a difference now. The backs of the sepals (the things that look like petals) of A. caroliniana are hairy whereas I cannot see any hairs on the backs of the sepals of A. blanda. If it was not for Chris’ and Evans’ closeups I would never have noticed.

  8. Mary Ellen Connelly says:

    This is exciting to see. Several years ago in early May, in Dad’s pasture south of Mt. Vernon, SD, we were mesmerized by large patches of Anemone carolinians in mostly blue but also a few pink. I’ve only timed it right a couple of years since then. I have several photos of those patches I would share (but none are as exquisite a the ones on your site).

    My friend Betty Ann Addison, formerly Betty Ann Mech, who edited Claude Barr’s book, Jewels of the Plains, had encouraged me to look for this among quartzite outcropping north of Brandon, SD where I found them one year. I wrote a story about those experiences that was published in a local magazine, with which I wrote a monthlygarden/plant article for many years. I’d be glad to share that too, if you’d like.
    Love your site. Mary Ellen Connelly

  9. Jane Papsdorf says:

    Beautiful flowers. Have never seen them before. Have tried to grow cultivated ones, but had no luck.

  10. Amy Crouch says:

    Evan just edged you out with the crab spider, Chris. Beautiful photos, both of you!

  11. joshuamayer says:

    A timely post. I had never seen one before (they are endangered here in WI), but happened to be in MN last weekend and saw dozens. A beautiful flower…and very nice photos.

  12. Troy Mullens says:

    One of my favorites, Ten-petal Anemone (Anemone berlandieri), is just about through blooming here on the prairie in north central Texas. Never numerous, they look like widely scattered large snowflakes where the prairie grasses aren’t too high.

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