There are a profusion of blossoms across the Black Hills! Mid-summer flowers vary in color from red to violet to white and in size from minute to large and showy.
Red or pink flowers currently on display include showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), scarlet beeblossom (Gaura coccinea), Richardson’s alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii), prickly rose (Rosa acicularis), and western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis). One of the showiest red/orange flowers found in the Black Hills, wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum), started blooming over the last week. It closely resembles the cultivated tiger lily and can be seen in meadows and open woodlands.
Pale agoseris (Agoseris glauca), sulphur Indian paintbrush (Castilleja sulphurea), stiffstem flax (Linum rigidum), fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata), slender yellow woodsorrel (Oxalis dillenii), blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), stemless four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis), and meadow zizia (Zizia aptera) constitute much of the yellow visible along disturbed areas such as trails and roadsides. However, the most common yellow flower visible right now is that of the sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis). Its saffron blooms make many open areas in the Black Hills appear yellow-green.
Other weedy species currently in flower include nodding plumeless thistle (Carduus nutans), houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale), black medic (Medicago lupulina), crownvetch (Securigera varia), red clover (Trifolium pratense), and white clover (Trifolium repens). Dames rocket (Hesperus matronalis) seems to be having a good bloom this year and can be seen in moist, shaded areas such as along streams. Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is also contributing color to roadsides, especially in the northern Black Hills. And true forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides) is blooming in and along many northern Black Hills streams.
Many purple or blue flowers, including common harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), Lewis flax (Linum lewisii), lupine (Lupinus sp.), large Indian breadroot (Pediomelum esculentum), sawsepal penstemon (Penstemon glaber), selfheal (Prunella vulgaris), hoary verbena (Verbena stricta), and American vetch (Vicia americana), are showing off their summer colors. One of the native thistles, wavyleaf thistle (Cirsium undulatum), has also produced large purple flower heads.
A host of species, including common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), oval-leaved milkweed (Asclepias ovalifolia), Jersey tea (Ceanothus herbaceus), poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), northern bedstraw (Galium boreale), common cowparsnip (Heracleum maximum), northern green orchid (Platanthera aquilonis), and white spiraea (Spiraea betulifolia), are currently producing clusters of white flowers. Other white flowers, appearing singly include candle anemone (Anemone cylindrica), Gunnison’s mariposa lily (Calochortus gunnisonii), bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis), Richardson’s geranium (Geranium richardsonii), thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), and Canadian white violet (Viola canadensis).
The shrubs blooming in early spring have turned into fruit, but a few other shrubs, including beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), and soapweed yucca (Yucca glauca) have taken their place.
Less ostentatious flowers are also blooming across the forest, including Maryland sanicle (Sanicula marilandica), purple meadowrue (Thalictrum dasycarpum), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), and my personal favorite, woodland pinedrops (Pterospora andromedea). In addition several species of grass, including smooth brome (Bromus inermis) and timothy (Phleum pratense), have produced minute flowers.
As the rainy months transition into sunshine, be sure to keep a lookout for new blossoms appearing daily. Until next time, happy wildflower viewing!