Wildflowers Blooming in the Prairies


Spiderwort ©2008 Bo Mackison

Spiderwort is a common plant throughout Wisconsin, blooms from now until September. If you want to enjoy this flower, you have to visit before mid-day and each flower only lasts one day. It becomes droopy in the afternoon, and shrivels and disappears into a sticky, liquified mass by nightfall.

Bitsy Yellow Hearts All 'Round

Bitsy Yellow Hearts All ‘Round ©2008 Bo Mackison

The Prairie Rose is another frequent Wisconsin flower, blooms from late May through late July. I love it under a macro lens – lots of bitsy yellow hearts spring out of its center.  In late summer, the flower heads transform into rose hips which are small, edible fruits. They stay on the plant through the winter and provide food  for birds and small mammals during the snowy months.

Native Americans collected the hips and used them medicinally, often as a treatment for headaches or stomach problems. The Native Americans and early pioneers used the wild rose for food, and a “health food” at that. Rose hips have 24 times more Vitamin C per unit than orange juice.  People still collect the hips for vitamin supplements, the rose petals for rose petal soup and rose petal jam is also made using a combination of the petals and lemon.

White Wild Indigo

White Wild Indigo ©2008 Bo Mackison

This is the White Wild Indigo plant. It rises 3 to 6 feet from the prairie floor and is currently waving its long flower covered spires across the prairie landscape.  The sap of the wild indigo has a blue dye and was often used as a substitute for the true indigo plant. It was also used as a treatment for lung diseases by Native Americans in the northcentral United States, though in larger quantities it is poisonous.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Anne Cox says:

    Hi! Just returned from Alaska to the UK having seen sights to raise the soul. Now you publish these wonderful pictures of plants that are new to me. The wild indigo looks like a member of the lupin family, but what of the spiderwort? I can’t think of an European equivalent.

  2. Chris Osborne says:

    Have you gotten a set chronicling the life of one of the Spiderworts? That would be really interesting to see.

  3. Joanna Young says:

    Wonderful as usual. Imagine flowering for just one day. Talk about carpe diem!


  4. Very lovely! I especially like the pink Prairie Rose capture! 🙂

  5. The indigo is actually a legume, or a member of the pea/bean family.

    The spiderwort is a member of the spiderwort family – only spiderworts in that group. They are rather a family unlike any other.

  6. Just beautiful! The spiderwort is such a vivid periwinkle color. Love it!

  7. Very nice shots, Bo! The indigo reminds me just a little of snapdragons, the Spiderwort is beautiful, and the rose looks very much like the ones we have here. Nice to see them!

  8. Your wildflower shots continue to amaze me. Plus I get to learn a little about them too. 🙂

  9. Beautiful images Bo !!

  10. The rose looks like a desert item. It is simply a wonderful image. Crisp & fine in detail – showing the delicay of the flower. Very, very nice.

    BTW, the spiderwort has a great name, but i’d spell it Spider Warts, but that’s just me. 🙂

  11. I like this idea of photographing part of the flower. I will have to try it.

  12. TIM BLAKE says:

    My friend is getting married next year in Lake Geneva and wants her floral bouquet to be made up of flowers native to Wisconsin that are in bloom during the summer. Any ideas????

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