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  • Platte River Basin Environments : Wildlife Projects
    Family Asteraceae A K A Prairie or Hairy Golden Aster General Native Perennial Readily found on Center trails and at Buffalo Creek Usually not very tall but is many branched and spreads to cover larger areas Long taproots and hairy leaves allow it to cope effectively with the summer conditions representative of Western Nebraska A bit of a late bloomer not appearing until July but does flower into August and September Not frequently found in Eastern Nebraska Greenthread Cota Family Sunflower Family Asteraceae A K A Indian Tea Rayless Thelesperma General Related to another plant by the same name here locally but appears quite different Most notable is the absence of rays characteristic of the sunflower group Those are the petals you pull off when playing He She love me loves me not It has been reported that certain Native American tribes such as the Pueblo of the Southwest use this plant in a tea Ground Cherry Family Nightshade Family Solanaceae A K A Husk or Strawberry Tomato General Native Perennial Photographs taken at Buffalo Creek but your best bet to find this one would be looking at field margins and irrigation ditches One of two common species in the state One could easily walk by this plant without giving it a second look due to the flowers being more greenish than bright yellows like many others In addition the flowers tend to face downward rather than up making them hard to see unless you are really looking for them Neat Stuff Green fruit is poisonous but after maturing toward the fall becomes edible Its more notable relatives include the tomato bell pepper Stemless Hymenoxy s Family Sunflower Family Asteraceae A K A Bitterweed Photos Taken 6 23 on Hwy 71 7 8 at Roubidoux General Native Perennial We did not find many of these in the area but those we did find were located on rocky dry sites Might need to do some climbing to find this one We did find one with a bit easier access along the trail at the top of Scotts Bluff National Monument You might want to take a quick side excursion Neat Stuff The plant is not actually stemless as its name suggests The flower resides on a stalk that is leafless they commonly grow in tufts similarly to other species that grow in the rocky areas Golden Current Genus Ribes General Fairly plentiful here at the center One of two species in the Ribes genus that can be found The other produces a white flower in contrast to the Golden Currents yellow with the red center This species lacks spines indicative of the other current known as Gooseberry It produces berries that are made into jellies and wines Regional Native American tribes also used the ripened berries in their pemmican You will likely run across this shrub in urban settings as well due to its popularity as an ornamental shrub to the top Bladderpod Family Mustard Family Brassicaceae General We were unsure of this one for quite a while but it is closely related to the Western Wallflower Its name is derived from the small fruiting pods easily seen when the plant matures More common to the main trail out at Buffalo Creek rather than the Center itself It inhabits dry sandy lowlying areas Neat Stuff Animals apparently have no desire to eat this plant although we found no reference as to why this is We suspect the peppery taste common to this family makes it rather unappealing Lavender Leafed Primrose Family Evening Primrose Family Onagraceae A K A Hartweg Evening Primrose General Native Perennial Great little flower growing from taproots found in tufts in rocky sites along Center trails One of a number of primroses in the western part of the state The flowers are usually pretty large and their yellow color will easily catch your eye Golden Corydalis Family Fumitory Family Fumariaceae General Short plant between four inches and one foot early flowering perhaps as early as April Leaves finely divided More common to the eastern part of the state Stem thick flowers appear to be attached in the middle of a petal rather than the base of the flower Common Dandilion Family Sunflower Family Asteraceae A K A Pain in the Lawn General It is highly doubtful you didn t know what this wonderful flower was Dandilion is French for Lion s tooth This flower can be found in virtually every temperate region of the world It is a great opportunist actually taking advantage of the stresses suffered by our lawns mowing fertilizing watering but it does not compete well against thriving wild grass communities You will find this out at the center only in disturbed areas where mowing and trail grooming occur Buffalo Bur Family Nightshade Family Solanaceae A K A Beaked or Prickly Nightshade Prickly Potato Texas Nettle Kansas Thistle General Native Annual Fortunately for the hiker not very abundant at the Center Much more commonly found along roadsides field margins fields and gardens Fairly short with multiple stems that are fortified with spines This plant does not stop there The undersides of leaves also contain spines and the eventual fruit of the flower is covered with spines The fruit is more commonly called a sticker and has an amazing attraction to socks shoelaces and pant legs This of course illustrates its common method of seed dispersal hitchhiking When the fruit sticker is opened numerous black seeds can be found Greenthread Family Sunflower Family Asteraceae A K A Nippleweed Photos Taken South Stage Hill Wildcats General Native Annual Reaches a height of about a foot and flowers from June to August Commonly found in dry gravelly sites disturbed sites and roadsides This particular flower was found south of the Nature Center in a dry disturbed grazing area to the top Prairie Coneflower Family Sunflower Family Asteraceae A K A Long headed or Upright Prairie Coneflower General Native Perennial Easy to see how this one was named Commonly

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