Ten Native Blooms in June
article and photos by Drew Granville, Volunteer Botanist at Fontenelle Forest
Wildflower diversity sees a subtle change in the early summer depending on the type of habitat. In the far east of Nebraska, June marks a slowdown in the number of new species blooming in wetlands and woodlands, but a sharp increase in prairie plant diversity. There are still many exciting wildflowers to look for at Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods during this time.
While hiking the oak uplands trails in early June, one might be lucky to come across eastern wahoo. Look for this erect shrub’s distinctive dark purple flowers near forest edges and openings, and on stream banks. Large-flowered tick clover is easy to find along the higher elevation trails. Starting in late June, starry campion is an occasional sight in the oak uplands. Look for medium-height plants with whorled leaves and multiple divided white petals.
Along the floodplain trails small, matted herbs called northern fogfruit are common on moist low ground, often near water. Bushy cinquefoil, a small, yellow-flowered rose, is an occasional sight in moist areas of the Fontenelle Forest floodplain. It is quite common on the Missouri River sandbars. Every year, new wetland plant species establish into the proper habitats in a process known as wetland plant succession. One such new arrival to the floodplain is marsh skullcap, a blue-flowered mint.
Butterfly milkweed is one of the few red-orange Nebraska wildflowers and grows in some of the Neale Woods prairie reconstructed areas. Black-eyed Susan is a popular cultivar but is also a native wildflower that can become massively abundant in prairies and meadows. Look for this plant in any of the Neale Woods prairies. By June, both the abundant purple prairie clover and the more occasional white prairie clover are in full bloom. Look for both plants growing together in multiple Neale Woods prairies.
Each of these habitats discussed has a unique community of flora that changes dramatically each month of the growing season. We invite you to hike these areas and enjoy the many wildflowers that can be spotted throughout the various seasons. As a friendly reminder, Fontenelle Forest has a Leave No Trace policy, which includes no collecting or picking of any kind. Please leave everything in the Forest as you found it for other guests to enjoy. For more information on Leave No Trace visit lnt.org.