Along a rocky road in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County, Oklahoma
• May 29, 2013
Photograph by Beau Bosko
By Ebenezer Bowles
Posted on June 4, 2013, from Fayetteville, Arkansas
Close cousin to the citified common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) of lawns and wilding vacant lots, the Prairie Dandelion is not so common because of conditions peculiar to its native ecosystem. An "uncommon" species in the jargon of ecology and botany is one whose numbers are limited by range, habitat, or other growing conditions. The uncommon Prairie Dandelion hankers after rocky, gravelly, or sandy soil in prairie pastures, slopes, and hillsides. It particularly likes the grasslands and tallgrass prairies of the American Midwest, an ecosystem under extreme duress from mega-corporate farming operations. In Illinois, where native prairie land is decimated, the Nothocalais cuspidata is listed as endangered.
A member of the Aster family of flora, the perennial Prairie Dandelion is right at home in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, where the native ecosystem is protected by the stewardship of the Nature Conservancy. There it thrives as a native wildflower of uncommon beauty.
Actual size of the specimen pictured here: appx. 7 cm in diameter. At bottom, the soft focus on the tips of some of the petals isn't the result of shallow depth of field in the camera lens, but rather the result of stiff prairie winds combined with slow shutter speed (F/10 @ 1/30s). You can see the ghostly motion of a few petals in the upper half of the photograph. The top image is the same dandelion shown from another perspective. Raindrops from a light afternoon shower linger on a few of the petals.
Uncommon Dandy was posted on Tuesday, June 4, 2013