Second Year Wildflowers at Lewis & Clark Recreation Area

A welcome sign of any spring is emerging perennials that have survived winter to bloom again. Large pollinator plots of wildflowers and native grasses, now in their second year, grow on both sides of the entrance of Lewis & Clark Recreation Area. Curving boundaries of the plots are defined by mown turfgrass. These plots can be experienced in drive-by, as well as at a walk-to destination. By June, six of the ten kinds of perennial wildflowers planted there were in bloom.

“We chose flowers in three bloom periods,” Shane Bertsch said. He is park supervisor at Lewis & Clark Recreation Area. He and Dale Dawson, state park conservation foreman, wanted flowers in bloom from spring to fall in the plots.

By late June, swaths of yellow Coreopsis and Black-Eyed Susans and Gallardia aristata and Prairie Cone Flowers lit the pollinator plots. Blue Flax, purple Rough Blazingstar and white Western Yarrow were also in bloom. Park senior secretary Jeanne Schroeder took photos of busy pollinators.

Pollinators like bumblebees are at work on Coreopsis flowers in the Lewis & Clark Recreation Area pollinator plots near the state park entrance. Park senior secretary Jeanne Schroeder captured this photo.


Blue flax found in the pollinator plot, is a less common color of native wildflower that blooms early and especially attracts native bees.


Jeanne Schroeder found a small bee with full pollen sacs on a Gallardia aristata, a yellow blanket flower in the park pollinator plot.


Purple Rough Blazingstar is beginning to bloom in the pollinator plot.


Yellow Coreopsis and White Western Yarrow are prominent bloomers in one of the Lewis & Clark Recreation Area pollinator plots in mid-June this year.


But what a difference a month can make. By mid-July, the yellow Black-Eyed Susans and white Western Yarrow in the foreground are squeezed by the Marestail. Marestail turned the pollinator plots from yellow blooms to nearly green.


The annual undesirable broadleaf Marestail, also called Horseweed, turned the colorful plots mostly green. Ironically, marestail is a native wildflower of the Great Plains that is found along roadsides, in gardens and vacant lots, according to Weeds of the Great Plains by Stubbendieck It was not selected among the ten wildflowers to plant in the plots.


Marestail is a fierce competitor with a taproot, that can be herbicide resistant, may grow in a summer or winter life cycle. This plant is often managed with zero tolerance because of the huge number of seeds produced from tiny white/green flowers at the top of the plant. Marestail contains tannic and gallic acids that irritate skin and mucosal linings of humans, livestock and horses in particular. Cool spring this year that slowed growth of warm season grasses and wildflowers, may have favored the growth of advantageous marestail.

To read a discussion about management options for non-desirable plants among native grasses and wildflowers, go to the Yankton Press & Dakotan newspaper article link at:




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