03 September 2008

Powell Gardens: The Native Plants of Missouri

Okay, we're back to talking about plants again. Specifically, native plants of Missouri, on account of I don't know much about them overall. However, part of the reason my luggage was rather heavy on the way home was that I bought two books that will help to shed some light on the flora of Missouri (and Kansas, as we were in and out of that state because of the way the border weaves around the city and surrounding areas.)

This is fun for me, because I love seeing plants that I might recognize as far as family or MAYBE genus, but no further. Because we were under such time constraints the whole trip (sleep was optional, as was eating but I drank a LOT of water), I didn't get to talk to a botanist at Powell Gardens, and the one person I did speak with was more informed about the garden plants than about the natives. So we'll go to books and the wisdom of blog-readers for some identifications.

One of the two books I scored is this lovely volume on Butterflies in the Kansas City Region. Beautifully bound and full colour photographs all the way through, including of many plants that attract pollinators. You know how I am about pollinators...

This wonderful fieldbook of shrubs and vines has a companion wildflower book, I understand, but it wasn't at the Gardens store. I'll probably try to track it down just because I'm such a nutcase about native plants. Beautifully illustrated, and well written, with botanical terminology as well as common names and interesting asides. Possum Haw? (Ilex decidua) Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpurea) Gotta love such names!

Okay, plant people, put on your thinking caps and let's consider some of these wildflowers. This one appeals to me because of its graceful foliage and pretty yellow flowers.

Here they are a little closer. (ETA: Thanks to Lisa, we know this is Partridge Pea, Cassia fasciculata)

This one I recognized as rattlesnake plant, Eryngium yuccifolium, because I have the immense pleasure of having it grow in my garden. Here's hoping it selfseeds as it flowered beautifully this year.

Some sort of tickseed or sunflower caught my eye. I suppose I could have picked a stem to dry and preserve, but I just couldn't do that in a public garden, even with masses of wildflowers in some areas.

I'm thinking this is some sort of liatris. (ETA: yes it is, after Gloria put me on to Rough blazing star (Liatris aspera), which I crosschecked against my other photos. I love this plant, more than the standard liatris in our garden.)

And this, a centaurea, aster, or heck, maybe even a liatris. Or something else completely again. Whatever it is, it's a butterfly magnet, as it was covered in small pollinators which kept flying while I tried to get in for a closeup.

Not the best shot of this tiny-flowered plant, and it was also somewhat wilted in the heat. It grows to five feet tall, though and was quite graceful, weaving in among the grasses and the sunflowers.

I THINK this brown seeded plant is called basket flower, but I'm not sure, and I haven't looked it up yet, but the seedheads are certainly attractive! And there's some sort of blue flowered, vetch like plant beside it, and of course assorted grasses.
(ETA: Actually, it's called Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis, thank you Gloria) and it's really quite a charmer, if only for those delightful seedheads)

Sigh. I want to go BACK to Powell Gardens, maybe in early summer, and observe the place much, much more closely. Because it's marvelous, and I hope that Missourans and Kansas residents (what do you call someone from Kansas--NOT DOROTHY!) take excellent advantage of this public garden, which is completely worth a whole day's visit. Just bring lots of water to drink. And a sunhat.


  1. I have four Possumhaw Hollies planted in my front yard. 1 ilex decidua, one golden berried possumhaw, one winterberry possumhaw, and one male to provide the UMPH necessary for them to berry and fruit! Ah, the lucky male possumhaw! Fortunately, there are lots of bees to aid in this process and all are happy and whole! I love this blog topic - your trip - and have notified my daughter-in-law about it. She lives in KC, MO. Nice, Jodi. I love this.

  2. Jodi: All new to me also! It looks like you had beautiful weather for the garden tour.

  3. Missourians and Kansans.
    At least you're aware of the fact that KC and its suburbs straddle state lines.

    The photos from Powell Gardens are lovely. I've always meant to head out there and have a look but it hasn't happened yet.

  4. Hi Jodi, glad you're back and enjoyed your trip. I look forward to hearing more about it. I am very excited about your books, especially the butterfly one, so much to learn there. I see you got the answer of Kansan, being an Oklahoman and daughter of a Missourian. The wildflower gardens are so full of life, what lessons are you going to apply to your own garden from what you saw and learned?

  5. I have never heard of Powell Gardens. I don't get over to KC way.

    I have seen these wildflowers before but I don'tknow what their names are. I have wildflower books I will see if I can ID any. THe only one I know is that yellow one with the frilly leaves. It is blooming around here now too. It is Partridge Pea 'Cassia fasciculata'.

  6. Great stuff. The books look interesting.
    I mostly look up Illinois wildflowers but some are the same,or almost.

    gaura biennis
    Liatris rough blazing star and cylindrical
    a prairie ragwort (senecio)

    That first yellow is pretty, it does have a cassia like leaf so Lisa is probably correct. Think I will go look it up.

  7. While looking up that legume Lisa suggested I found this.
    Desmanthus illinoensis
    Great seed head!!

  8. Hi Jodi - I hear you've got some rough weather on the way. I'm crossing my fingers that it's not too bad.

  9. Jodi! You're *finally* back up on Blotanical! Thank God---I'd missed you!!! Whew. I hope Hanna simply gave your garden a good watering as it did ours here at Hawk's Haven.

  10. And now let me add that another of the awesome things about blogging is being able to draw from the knowledge of others from other parts of the continent/world.

    Thanks to those of you who helped puzzle out some of the wildflowers I saw in Powell Gardens. And yeah, I'm glad to be back on Blotanical's feed, as I didn't know what was up with that. But it's been a very odd summer....

    And thankfully, Post-tropical-weather tantrum Hanna didn't do much of anything here, just added some more rain. Big surprise, that. I may have to make the lawn into silage for the neighbour's beef cattle, at this rate.


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