Photos of the Week – May 7, 2021

The parade of spring wildflowers is still marching on, though it continues to be a fairly modest event featuring mostly small acts. The bigger, louder attractions are yet to make their appearance. Looking across our prairies, you might see a little color here and there, but most of the flowers are small and scattered enough you won’t see them unless/until you start walking around.

I did just that at our family prairie this week, trying to keep up with the progression of wildflowers, but also checking livestock fence and water and strategizing about upcoming work projects. Storms were moving out of the area, leaving behind some pretty great clouds, so I tried to capture wildflowers and clouds at the same time. A fisheye lens is a fun way to do that, but I didn’t get quite what I was envisioning. The effort wasn’t wasted, though – I came away with some decent photos and had a great time exploring.

Here are some photos from my Wednesday evening walk:

Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta). Helzer family prairie. Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 320, f/20, 1/125 sec.
Prairie and sky. Helzer family prairie. Nikon 11-16mm lens @11mm. ISO 320, f/20, 1/125 sec.
Prairie violet (Viola pedatifida). Helzer family prairie. Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 320, f/22, 1/80 sec.
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre). Helzer family prairie. Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 320, f/22, 1/80 sec.
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre). Helzer family prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/13, 1/320 sec.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale). Helzer family prairie. Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 320, f/22, 1/200 sec.
Chokecherry blossoms (Prunus virginiana). Helzer family prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/13, 1/1000 sec.
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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.

8 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – May 7, 2021

  1. What fun to see white blue-eyed grass. There are several species of blue-eyed grass down here, and I occasionally see a white one. I was surprised to learn that it’s a member of the iris family, along with prairie nymph ( Herbertia lahue ) and purple pleatleaf (Alophia drummondii).

  2. I’m sure this is CNN posted somewhere but how big is your family prairie. Beautiful pics! Have you thought about doing the square meter project here? I wonder if species would spread out more in a large prairie?

    • It’s about 100 acres. Yes, I’ve thought about doing something like the square meter project there, but it’s about a 15 minute drive to get there and that’s just far enough away to make it a little more challenging to go there really frequently. but maybe another relatively similar project…

      I don’t think the species would necessarily spread out more in a large prairie – in fact, the density of species (not individuals) might be higher in a bigger site because bigger prairies tend to contain higher species diversity. I might have found more insect species in a square meter of my prairie because there would have been more species around to pass through when I was there.

  3. Any smell from that Prairie violet? I’ve noticed that some species of violets (around here) smell fantastic, while others smell absolutely nothing. Very strange phenomenon.
    And those white Pussytoes; do you have red ones as well?

    • I’ve not noticed much odor, but I’ll be honest and say I’ve not really tried hard to smell them. I’ll have to do that. We don’t have any red ones here. I wish we did – they’re very beautiful.

      • Yes, I feel that a nice perfume always give any flower an extra dimension.
        However, one has to wonder why some flowers produce perfume when it doesn’t seem like pollinators are that affected by it. Well, it’s a bonus whatever the real reason.

  4. I enjoyed your early spring flowers. Are the dandelions native. I have heard yes and no to this question.

    On Fri, May 7, 2021, 7:56 AM The Prairie Ecologist wrote:

    > Chris Helzer posted: ” The parade of spring wildflowers is still marching > on, though it continues to be a fairly modest event featuring mostly small > acts. The bigger, louder attractions are yet to make their appearance. > Looking across our prairies, you might see a little colo” >

    • Thank you! This dandelion is not native but there are some other flowers called dandelions (e.g., prairie dandelion) that are, which might be where the confusion lies.

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