Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 04/20/2015


Photo taken on April 19, 2015


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Keywords

nature
Buttercup family
wind flower
Prairie Crocus
prairie smoke
Pulsatilla patens
pale purple
Pine Coulee Reservoir
blooms in spring
prairie anemone
Pasque flower
Ranunculaceae
flora
flower
flowers
mauve
plant
native
wildflower
Canada
Alberta
petal-like sepals


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Growing at Pine Coulee Reservoir

Growing at Pine Coulee Reservoir
Yesterday, 19 April 2015, I went with a group of friends on a birding trip to Pine Coulee Reservoir, which lies SW of Calgary. After a lovely late start, at 9:30 am - wish all our outings started so late! - we very slowly travelled many backroads south of Calgary, eventually arriving at the Pine Coulee Reservoir. I love the whole area down south with its rolling hills. The weather was beautiful, plenty of bird species were seen, and the company was great. As always, I did not see many of the birds, as they were far too far away and I don't have binoculars. Walkie Talkies would be so good to have on any trip where there is more than one car : ) Thanks, Terry, for another great trip! Thanks, Stephen and Dorothy, for driving Shirley and myself the whole day - greatly appreciated!

At one of the stops along the Reservoir, someone mentioned that Prairie Crocuses were in bloom on a slope down from the parking lot. I just had time to dash over and take a couple of very quick shots before we continued our drive.

"The prairie crocus (Anemone patens), is the first plant to bloom on the prairie each year. The true harbinger of spring, its mauve, petal-like sepals dot the still drab prairie landscape, often before the last snow of winter has melted. By blooming so early, the crocus assures itself of the complete attention of available pollinators - small bees and other insects. Its seeds can then ripen by early June and if moisture is available they will germinate right away. If the prairie is too dry the seeds will go dormant, then germinate the following spring.

Tufts of much-divided leaves emerge once flowering is finished and the risk of severe frost is over, but still well before most other prairie plants.

The saucer-shaped construction of many spring flowers like the crocus, is no accident. Neither is the fuzzy centre of the crocus (composed of numerous yellow stamens and a tuft of greyish pistils - that become plumed fruit), nor its highly reflective petals. It all adds up to solar heating . . . Crocus Style!

The sunlight that reaches the crocus' shiny petals is reflected into the flower centre. This energy is bounced around between the stamens and pistils warming these vital reproductive parts of the flower. On a sunny day the temperature inside a crocus flower can be as much as 10 C (18 F) warmer than the temperature of the surrounding air. Not only does the dish shaped flower concentrate the sun's warmth, it tracks the sun across the sky, maximizing the length of time each day that it can stay warmer than the surrounding air." From naturenorth.com.

www.naturenorth.com/spring/flora/crocus/Prairie_Crocus2.html

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