The floral display in the Red Hills in most years is good enough to deserve a spot on the top 8 list of Natural Wonders of the Red Hills. This year has been spectacular. From the earliest blooms of Easter Daisy in March to the last puffs of purple from gayfeathers in the fall, the chronological march of flowers paint the mixed-grass prairie with remarkable beauty. A wide variety of habitats from gypsum and sandy soils to loamy range sites set the table for a diverse floral component. It all translates to an amazing amount of eye-candy for anyone traveling the roads of the Red Hills during the growing season.
Craig Freeman, Senior Curator for the R. L. McGregor Herbarium at the University of Kansas states there are about 630 plant species in the Red Hills. It would be impossible to present pictures of all of just my own collection of images. I have chosen a selection here to hopefully delight the viewer and to perhaps demonstrate the legitimacy of this component of this ecosystem as one of the 8 Natural Wonders in this land of enchantment. This posie parade starts with the iconic, showy fall wildflower of the Red Hills, Ten-petal Mentzelia or "Candleflower."
| Indian Blanket Flower (AKA Cowboy Daisy--one of the most recognizable and |
common long-season bloomers. Also called Rosering Gaillardia.)
|Blue Wild Indigo|
|Buckeye and variegated butterflies on Black Sampson (AKA Snakeroot)|
|Cardinal Flower--along streams|
|Stout Scorpion-weed attracting a Digger Bee|
|Butterflies on Echinacea (Black Sampson or Snakeroot)|
| Rayless Gaillardia (tall ones) in with Norton Flax (blue), Stiff Stem Flax (yellow) |
and Narrowleaf Yucca (Soapweed along the fence)
|Purple Locoweed, AKA Lambert Crazyweed, with Plains Hymenoxis (yellow)|
|Scarlet Globe Mallow|
|Purple Poppy Mallow (AKA Prairie Winecup or Cowboy Rose)|
|A reddish version of the usually yellow flower of Prickly Pear cactus|
|Lemon Bee Balm|
|White Beardtongue (Penstemon)|
|Prairie Blanketflower (Gaillardia)|
|Purple Poppy Mallow (Prairie Winecup or Cowboy Rose)|
|Cat-claw Sensitive Brier|
|Golden Prairie Clover (Silk-top Dalea)|
|Prairie Spiderwort (Cow Slobbers)|
|Smooth Twist Flower (foreground), Spotted Bee Balm(background)|
Want to see more? Here's a handy guide to Red Hills wildflowers. Contact me if you'd like one. Also, one of the best sources on-line is Michael Haddock's website called Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses. Google it for plants of the Red Hills and the rest of Kansas. Also, just out this year is a fantastic book called "Kansas Wildflowers and Weeds" by Michael Haddock, Craig Freeman and Janet Bare. It is available through the University Press of Kansas.