Minnesota days don’t get much better than this one. Bright sun, mid 70s temperature, and no bugs (meaning the mosquitos aren’t thick yet). Daughter Alison told me she saw lots of wildflowers at Elm Creek Reserve Park yesterday. I drove up there today and took my bike along just in case the wildflowers were far from where I would park. What a good idea. In fact, I highly recomment this scenic prairie and wooded bike trail that winds through the park in an approximate 10 mile loop. Look here for a map.
There were indeed some very nice wildflowers in the park, scattered among the restored prairie, the woodland understory, and the open brome fields. Here are some photos of a few of them.
In the restored prairie area I found a really well nourished Puccoon species, with multiple stems and flowers, and a variety of pollinators all over it, like this Clear-winged Moth. Unfortunately the moth was moving so quickly from flower to flower that I never had a chance to focus accurately.
Also in the restored prairie was a large clump of lupine, at about peak flower production. Their vivid blue-purple flowers contrasted sharply with the dead grass stems from the previous growing season.
Golden Alexander was abundant in the restored prairie but also on the edges of the brome fields, and it much larger with many more flower heads than I have seen in other prairies.
It too, was host to a number of pollinators, like this Juniper Hairstreak. These 1/2 inch butterflies are supposed to hang out in Red Cedar (an evergreen that invades the prairies), but they were quite attracted to the yellow flowers out in the prairie today.
Elderberry and Red Osier Dogwood were also abundant in the brome fields, along with a lot of Staghorn Sumac. I don’t know if people in the midwest use elderberry for anything, but in California we made wine from the berries in late summer one year.
The elderberry was loaded with flowers, on one clump of which was a pretty blue 1/2 inch long butterfly. I looked up its name: Eastern Tailed-Blue, which is distinguished from all the other blue butterflies by the orange dots on its blue tails (hind wing). I didn’t get close enough before it flew away to show the orange dots, but I can see them there when I zoom into the photo. The male is bright blue, the female is dull charcoal gray, but with the same orange spots on her hindwing.
In the woodland in the dappled shade of the large trees there, I found phlox, Virginia Waterleaf, and Wild Geranium.
Depending on the light conditions, the blue phlox can look a little pink.
And there is a white variety as well.
Wild Geranium looks nothing like its horticultural namesake, and lacks the geranium odor as well.
Elm Creek Reserve has dozens of bluebird boxes scattered throughout the acreage. I checked them as I rode by but didn’t see a single bluebird on or flying from the boxes until I was almost back to my car. And there was a pair perched in a tree about 100 feet from their nest.
The male has a brighter rust red breast and bluer head and back than the female (which you can sort of see in these too-far-away-photos.