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June 15, 2008 / Bo Mackison

Wildflowers Blooming in the Prairies


Spiderwort is a common plant throughout Wisconsin, blooms from now until September. If you want to enjoy this flower, you have to visit before mid-day and each flower only lasts one day. It becomes droopy in the afternoon, and shrivels and disappears into a sticky, liquified mass by nightfall.

Bitsy Yellow Hearts All 'Round

The Prairie Rose is another frequent Wisconsin flower, blooms from late May through late July. I love it under a macro lens – lots of bitsy yellow hearts spring out of its center.  In late summer, the flower heads transform into rose hips which are small, edible fruits. They stay on the plant through the winter and provide food  for birds and small mammals during the snowy months.

Native Americans collected the hips and used them medicinally, often as a treatment for headaches or stomach problems. The Native Americans and early pioneers used the wild rose for food, and a “health food” at that. Rose hips have 24 times more Vitamin C per unit than orange juice.  People still collect the hips for vitamin supplements, the rose petals for rose petal soup and rose petal jam is also made using a combination of the petals and lemon.

White Wild Indigo

This is the White Wild Indigo plant. It rises 3 to 6 feet from the prairie floor and is currently waving its long flower covered spires across the prairie landscape.  The sap of the wild indigo has a blue dye and was often used as a substitute for the true indigo plant. It was also used as a treatment for lung diseases by Native Americans in the northcentral United States, though in larger quantities it is poisonous.


  1. Anne Cox / Jun 15 2008 12:22 am

    Hi! Just returned from Alaska to the UK having seen sights to raise the soul. Now you publish these wonderful pictures of plants that are new to me. The wild indigo looks like a member of the lupin family, but what of the spiderwort? I can’t think of an European equivalent.

  2. Chris Osborne / Jun 15 2008 1:00 am

    Have you gotten a set chronicling the life of one of the Spiderworts? That would be really interesting to see.

  3. Joanna Young / Jun 15 2008 3:48 am

    Wonderful as usual. Imagine flowering for just one day. Talk about carpe diem!


  4. Anna Surface / Jun 15 2008 6:41 am

    Very lovely! I especially like the pink Prairie Rose capture! 🙂

  5. Bo / Jun 15 2008 8:55 am

    The indigo is actually a legume, or a member of the pea/bean family.

    The spiderwort is a member of the spiderwort family – only spiderworts in that group. They are rather a family unlike any other.

  6. Aiyana / Jun 15 2008 12:05 pm

    Just beautiful! The spiderwort is such a vivid periwinkle color. Love it!

  7. montucky / Jun 15 2008 2:04 pm

    Very nice shots, Bo! The indigo reminds me just a little of snapdragons, the Spiderwort is beautiful, and the rose looks very much like the ones we have here. Nice to see them!

  8. Robin / Jun 15 2008 3:29 pm

    Your wildflower shots continue to amaze me. Plus I get to learn a little about them too. 🙂

  9. Bernie Kasper / Jun 16 2008 10:38 am

    Beautiful images Bo !!

  10. Gandalf / Jun 17 2008 12:59 pm

    The rose looks like a desert item. It is simply a wonderful image. Crisp & fine in detail – showing the delicay of the flower. Very, very nice.

    BTW, the spiderwort has a great name, but i’d spell it Spider Warts, but that’s just me. 🙂

  11. davidlind / Jun 19 2008 5:11 pm

    I like this idea of photographing part of the flower. I will have to try it.

  12. TIM BLAKE / Jun 27 2008 2:07 pm

    My friend is getting married next year in Lake Geneva and wants her floral bouquet to be made up of flowers native to Wisconsin that are in bloom during the summer. Any ideas????

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