A brisk and chilly northwest wind did not deter about 20 nature enthusiasts from exploring the prairie in the Loess Hills State Forest on Saturday, March 16. 

Photo by Becky Kipper

It was perfect timing to see hundreds of pasque flowers in bloom. The pasque flowers definitely stole the show, but they were not the only plants in bloom. Ground plum (Astragalus crassicarpus), sun sedge (Carex inops), pussy toes (Antennaria neglecta) and prairie willow (Salix humilis) were also taking advantage of the early spring weather. Others, like bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata) and locoweed (Oxytropis lambertii), were coming up but not yet in flower.

A short trip into the forest at Preparation Canyon State Park found bloodroot in bloom (Sanguinaria canadensis). Other species beginning spring regrowth were Sprengel’s sedge (Carex sprengelii), Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), Cleaver’s bedstraw (Galium aparine), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), sweet cicely (Osmorhiza), woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).