Photo of the Week – November 23, 2012

No, they’re not orange blueberries…

Late horse gentian (Triosteum perfoliatum). The Nature Conservancy’s Rulo Bluffs Preserve – southeastern corner of Nebraska.

Also known as wild coffee because its fruits can be used as a substitute for coffee, late horse gentian’s orange fruits stand out in autumn woodlands.  I found a small group of these plants on the edge between prairie and woodland at our Rulo Bluffs Preserve a couple weeks ago.  They were pretty hard to miss – I saw them from about 20 yards away as I came up out of a deep wooded draw.  I was hoping to get some photos of the prairies before the sun went behind the nearby bluffs, but I couldn’t resist pausing a few moments to photograph this unique plant.