Ozark Wildflower Report 4: Ha Ha Tonka State Park – 4.22.17

Posted by on April 29, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017.  Hundreds of Indian paintbrush wildflowers (Castilleja coccinea) bloom in an open portion of the Ha Ha Tonka Oak Woodland Natural Area, as light rain and overcast skies greeted visitors to popular Ha Ha Tonka State Park located in the Osage River Hills region of the Ozarks.

 

 

 

A massive natural bridge composed of Gunter Sandstone makes a dramatic entrance into a former collapsed cave, now a steep sided sinkhole, providing a microclimate refuge for rare plants.

 

 

Karst topography dominates the primordial Ozark landscape rich in caves and associated features like springs, sinkholes, losing streams, and natural bridges.

 

A member of the Phlox family, many delicate, pale violet colored petals of Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans) were present in the serene environs of Ha Ha Tonka Karst Natural Area.

 

Cream Wild Indigo (Baptista bracteata) is a low, bush-like plant easily identified for an asymmetrical bloom pattern. Echoing the ancient home continent of all flowering plants (angiosperms), the Missouri native resembles varieties associated with Southeast Asia.

 

 

False dandelion (Krigia biflora) was dispersed in single golden blooms.

 

The complex visual splendor of Horsemint (Mondara bradburiana), a shining pollinator forest beacon, is a common sight during Spring in the Ozarks. Horsemint’s dotted curvilinear petals and multitude of textures provide a focal point of wild American beauty; nurturing a quiet, meditative atmosphere.

 

The semi-transparent, purple glowing, trumpet-shaped blooms of Dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne) appeared in sparse patches in only a few locations.

 

 

Returning from Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka State Parks, the Bluff View Trail at Meramec State Park was scanned for any new Spring wildflower species in bloom. Two or three of the rare white variety of the purple colored Dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne) were present.

 

A member of the Lily family, a handful of weather damaged Wild hyacinth (Camissia scilloides) grew high above the Meramec River.

 

Natural, wild American beauty distilled into a single flower, the exquisite Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) was suspended over a river bluff, adorning the entrance of a newfound cave.

 

 

A member of the Figwort family, Foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) attracts hummingbirds.

 

A member of the Waterleaf family, large hillside swaths of Phacelia (Phacelia purshii) almost concealed the trail. Phacelia means “cluster” in Greek.

 

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