Sunday, August 7, 2016

Showy Prairie Gentian, a field filled with this rarish native wildflower

I spotted these neat wildflowers several years ago in a pasture in Otero County that often has cattle grazing in it. After I found out these were rarish native plants I was going to try to learn more; but we went into drought conditions in southeast Colorado and though I have looked each year they did not grow again until this year.
And this year thanks to some good precipitation in that area they are flourishing. This is the largest area covered with them that I have seen.
The Colo Natural Heritage Program, which lists them in their rare plants database, describes their habitat as follows: "Along streams; in wet meadows, pastures, and fields; usually near old stream meanders or at the margins of lakes or ponds. Often in alkaline soils. Elev. 3500 - 6000 ft."
The map on the Colo Natural Heritage Program site does not show them in Otero County but it looks like it may not be updated as the most recent reference is 1989. I will make some inquiries to see if there is an updated map that shows this location.
The "Rare Plants of Colorado," Second Edition (1997) notes they were also called Tulip Gentian and I can see why as they do resemble tulips. The latin name for this species is Eustoma grandiflorum. SeEtta