Wildflowers: Whites

Prickly Poppy

Prickly Poppy

Family: Poppy Family, Papavaraceae
A.K.A.: Bluestem Prickly Poppy, Thistle Poppy, Cardo Santo, Mexican Poppy, Chicalote
General: Native Annual; More common to disturbed areas such as roadsides than the Center area. If you do run across one of these, DO NOT TOUCH! It isn't called prickly for nothing. Animals avoid this one due to the spines and bad tasting juices.
Neat Stuff: Yellow juices used straight for warts, preserved juices diluted with 3 or 4 parts water can be used for heat rash and hives. Whole plant can be boiled into a strong tea and used for bathing sunburned and abraded areas for relief of pain. White Beardtongue

White Beardtongue

Family: Figwort Family, Scrophulariaceae
A.K.A.: White Penstamon
General: Native Perennial; One of a number of members of the Penstemon genus found in Nebraska. Although some of the other species give me trouble this one is easy, it's white. This is one of 15 found on the plains, there are nearly 250 in North America. This species is found early in the season along the trails of the Center.
Neat Stuff: Known to be made into a salve to dress a wide variety of skin irritations as well as the anus and lips. Chewed roots have been used to sooth aching teeth. Yucca


Family: Agave Family, Agavaceae
A.K.A.: Small Soapweed, Amole, Adam's Needle, Soapwell, Spanish Bayonet, Beargrass, Spanish Dagger, Joshua Tree
General: Native Perennial; Large, obvious plant with sharp leaves that the casual hiker might encounter with a yelp if not careful! Participates in a very specialized relationship with a small nocturnal white moth. The moth is the only insect which pollinates the yucca, in return the yucca serves as a depository for the moths eggs which develop into larva that feed on developing seeds. The relationship is so specialized that neither the moth nor the yucca can survive without the other.
Neat Stuff: Crushed roots produce a lather when agitated in water, Native American Indians used it as a shampoo; cord and twine made from leaf fibers; once considered a potential source of phytosterols, a family of plant substances used in the manufacture of steroidal hormones. Miner’s Candle

Miner’s Candle

Family: Borage (Boraginaceae), Genus: Cryptantha
A.K.A.: Butte Candle, Bradbury Cryptantha
General: One of approximately six species in the western end of the state. They are distinguished from each other by its height, fullness, flowers and the density of the hairs on the leaves. The stiff hairs covering the stems and leaves give the plant a grayish appearance. Typically grows in dry soils and places like buttes, rock outcroppings, bluffs and eroded banks.
Neat Stuff: An herb, however, grazing animals avoid it because of the spiny hairs. It is a native biennial or short lived perennial. Blooms from June to July. Sandwort


Family: Pink Family, Caryophyllaceae
General: Native Perennial; our photos do not do the plant justice. Common to the Panhandle, usually found in dry, rocky, gravelly soils and rock outcrops. Short plant usually with a greater diameter than height. Growth represents a "tuft" common to many rock dwelling plants.
Neat Stuff: Well adapted to dry conditions, adaptations include narrow leaves to reduce water loss and hard seed coats to prolong viability while waiting for favorable germination conditions. Gumbo Evening Primrose

Gumbo Evening Primrose

Family: Evening Primrose Family, Onagraceae
A.K.A.: Tufted Evening Primrose, gumbo lily, rock rose.
General: Native Perennial; Worth looking for but is elusive at the Center. The photographed specimens were found just to the rear of the Center itself, usually found later in the summer. One of many primrose species found in the area, most of the others are yellow. The primroses are among our favorites. Classification of the white varieties is very tough. Resembles very closely the White-stemmed or Nuttall’s Evening Primrose to the top Low Fleabane

Low Fleabane

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
General: Native Perennial; Another early flowering species in the Center area. Easily found along trails, although not tall, this white flower stands out well. This is one of the first asters to flower and is usually done before many of the other asters begin.
Neat Stuff: Grows from a deep tap root allowing it to persist in very dry places. Large Flowered Townsendia

Large Flowered Townsendia

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
General: Native Biennial/ Short Lived Perennial; This one, like the sandwort and white phlox, is found in rocky soils and rock outcrops, common to Panhandle region. This is a very short plant growing in "tufts" or clumps with numerous flowers. Unfortunately our specimens were photographed after a hail storm and we never found a better plant. Keep an eye out for this one. White Phlox

White Phlox

Family: Polemonium Family, Polemoniaceae
A.K.A.: Plains Phlox, Moss or Creeping Phlox
General: Native Perennial; Resembles to some extent the sandwort, upon closer examination the flower structure will be an obvious difference. Flowers somewhat earlier in the season and is common to Western Nebraska. Grows in "tufts" like the sandwort. Mountain Lily

Mountain Lily

Family: Lily Family, Liliaceae
A.K.A.: Star of Bethlehem, Sand Lily, Star Lily
General: Native Perennial; Most definately one of our favorites. Flowers in the late spring, the benefactor of the proverbial April showers, one clear indicator that spring is here. Low lying plant with from one to a dozen flowers. Growth cycle generally done by mid June.
Neat Stuff: Unlike other lilies which grow from bulbs, the Mountain Lily grows from several finger like roots that share food and water. Death Camas

Death Camas

Family: Lily Family, Liliaceae
Photos Taken: 5/20 at Wildcat Hills
General: Native Perennial; Occurs mainly in the Panhandle. Early flowering, found easily along the trails of the Center, especially the trail leading north from the rear of the Center. Plant grows from a bulb and reaches 10 to 15 inches.
Neat Stuff: All parts of the plant are poisonous to both man and livestock (although pigs seem to be immune). It has been estimated, however, that a human would need to eat nearly six pounds of the plant to be lethal. There are other species in the west, not all poisonous. Rocky Mountain Pussytoes

Rocky Mountain Pussytoes

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Rocky Mountain Cudweed, Cats Paw, Life Everlasting
Photos Taken: 6/7, 6/8 at Wildcat Hills and Buffalo Creek
General: Native Perennial; Very short flower, difficult to find because of its stature, however, if found will be found in clumps. These plants are dioecious meaning that male and female parts are found on seperate flowers with the females more conspicuous.
Neat Stuff: The name "Cats Paw" comes from the resemblance of the flower to the pads of a cats foot. to the top White Wild Onion

White Wild Onion

Family: Lily Family, Liliaceae
Photos Taken: 6/8 at Wildcat Hills
General: Native Perennial; Found in May and June, very plentiful along the trails of the Center, particularly the trail leading to the north from the rear of the Center. Grows to around 10-12 inches tall with flowers found in clumps at the top.
Neat Stuff: Small bulb has a pleasant taste with obvious uses in cooking. Bulbs easily dried and stored for winter use. One medicinal use found cited the juice of the onion for sore throats. There are about 300 species of onions world wide. Serves as a food source for a wide variety of animals. Star-flowered False Solomon Seal

Star-flowered False Solomon Seal

Family: Lily Family, Liliaceae
A.K.A.: Spikenerd, Solomon’s Plume
General: Native Perennial; A bit more difficult to find than most of the flowers in the area. The Solomon's Seal prefers the cooler more shaded areas along the further reaches of the trail system. May be found in the low canyons or where the sun doesn't often visit. Common to Ponderosa Pine areas of the west. It is not very big you will have to keep a sharp eye out.
Neat Stuff: Root is an effective expectorant for inflammatory stage of lung infections and sore throats, facilitates softening and upward movement of mucus. Root tea also good for frontal headaches caused by or occuring with indigestion Beebalm


Family: Mint Family, Lamiaceae
A.K.A.: Horsemint, Spotted Beebalm, Plains or Lemon Monarda, Lemonmint
Photos Taken: 6/14, 6/20 at Wildcat Hills
General: Native Annual; Fairly early riser, found in Western and Central Nebraska, found easily along Center trails growing to heights in excess of one and a half feet.
Neat Stuff: Plant contains thymol, used as an ingredient in antiseptic preparations and as a fungicide. Southwestern indians use it to season foods also has been used to stimulate menstration. White Sweet Clover

White Sweet Clover

Family: Pea Family, Leguminosae
Photos Taken: 7/10, 7/15 at Wildcat Hills
General: One of two common sweet clovers, the other being the yellow sweet clover. Both commonly found together in the center area. Usually tall with flowers on a long spike. The white can be taller than the yellow. Blooms in June and into September. Both varieties are good forage for grazers and sometimes is planted for that purpose.
Neat Stuff: Contains chemical coumarin, which gives the plant its odor and taste. If plant spoils the coumarin decays into a toxic substance that prevents the clotting of blood. Desirable plant for bees. Although we would never advocate picking or cutting these plants you should be here when the sides of the road get mowed, this stuff smells awesome. Combleaf Evening Primrose

Combleaf Evening Primrose

Family: Evening Primrose Family, Onagraceae
General: One of the many primroses in Western Nebraska. As mentioned with the Gumbo Evening Primrose it is one of the whites. We are fairly confident of its identification but as we said, the whites are tough. This variety tends to be more solitary and even harder to find at the Center. Can reach up to 12 inches high in contrast to the Gumbo which rarely reaches six inches. It is typically more abundant following above average rainfall and resides abundantly in pastures. If you are driving hear locally, especially to the east and see a white flower in a pasture in the late spring/early summer it is likely the Combleaf. Platte Thistle

Platte Thistle

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
Photos Taken: 6/14 at Wildcat Hills
General: Native Perennial; Common to Western and Central Nebraska. As with most thistle species is typically found in slightly disturbed areas. This one can be found easily by taking the trail west from the rear of the Center. It will be found on the trail itself. Easily distinguished from other thistles due to its white color. It is one of the first thistles to bloom in the area. to the top Clammy Weed

Clammy Weed

Family: Caper Family, Capparaceae
Photos Taken: 8/13, 8/17 at Wildcat Hills
General: Closely related to the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant. Flowers later in the summer from July to September. Found in gravelly soils, as a matter of fact these were photographed just to the east of the center parking lot.
Neat Stuff: Plant possesses a very strong odor from oils released by the hairs of the plant. Produces a fruit found in a pod very obvious in the later parts of August. Sulfur Cinquefoil

Sulfur Cinquefoil

Family: Rose Family, Rosaceae
Photos Taken: 7/10 at South Stage Hill (Wildcats)
General: Naturalized Perennial; We were very excited to run across this one because it does not occur frequently in the west. It does appear to be spreading our way as is in evidence by our photos. Plants reportedly reach 1-2 feet tall, however, these plants were found along a roadside area and were much shorter, having been exposed to mowing pressures.
Neat Stuff: This variety of plant has played an important role medicinally. Plant juices act as an astringent which constricts tissues presumably to reduce blood flow. We also found a practice of placing cinquefoil leaves in shoes to prevent blisters. Although a member of the rose family it is much kinder to the touch, lacking thorns. Tenpetal Mentzelia

Tenpetal Mentzelia

Family: Stickleaf Family, Loasaceae
A.K.A.: Prairie Lilly, Blazing star, Stickleaf, Sand Lily, Evening Star, Moon Flower
Photos Taken: 8/17 at SB National Monument
General: Native Biennial or Short Lived Perennial, One of two species found in the Panhandle. Flowers from June to September but seems that locally you are more likely to find it in August and September. Pollinated by moths and other night-flying insects. Flowers tend to open in late afternoon, closing in early morning.
Neat Stuff: Name derived from the fact that flowers have 10 or more petals. Green Milkweed

Green Milkweed

Family: Milkweed Family, Asclepiadaceae
Photos Taken: 6/24, 6/29 at Wildcat Hills
General: Native Perennial; Flowers throughout summer months predominantly June and July, found throughout the state.
Neat Stuff: Milkweeds in general have many medicinal uses. Milkweeds contain the enzyme asclepain used to remove warts and more recently to stimulate milk production. White Aster

White Aster

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Heath or Frost Aster
Photos Taken: 8/30, 9/11 at Buffalo Creek
General: Native Perennial; Flowers later in the summer, this one does not appear until August or September. One of our favorites, large amounts are usually evident east of the Center at Buffalo Creek but can be found on Center trails.
Neat Stuff: Plant does very well in drought, extensive root system aids in acquiring water. One of the prairie plants (non grass) that actually increases growth in grazing condition. White Prairie Clover

White Prairie Clover

Family: Bean Family, Fabaceae
Photos Taken: 7/8, 7/15 at Wildcat Hills
General: Native Perennial; More often found in the eastern part of the state, common to prairie areas. Livestock and wild grazers find this plant very tasty. Native from Minnesota to Arizona.
Neat Stuff: Plains indians such as the Ponca chewed the root for its pleasant taste while the Pawnee reportedly bound the tough stems together to use as a broom. Several tribes used it to brew a tea. to the top Catnip


Family: Mint Family, Lamiaceae
A.K.A.: Catmint, Catwort, Field Balm
Photos Taken: 6/29, 7/8 at Roubidoux
General: Naturalized Perennial; Another that you will really have to hunt for in the center area. You are actually more likely to find it in an alley or garden in town. Cats love the minty odor released when the leaves are crushed, no one is sure what the attraction really is, used to scent cat toys.
Neat Stuff: Medicinally, teas made from the leaves have been used to remedy a wide variety of problems from colic to nervous disorders. We also discovered that it has been used as a mild tranquilizer and sedative. Snow-on-the-Mountain


Family: Spurge Family, Euphorbiaceae
A.K.A.: Variegated Spurge, Wolf's Milk
Photos Taken: 8/25 at Morrill County
General: Native Annual; Found across the state but seems to be more common further east. These pictures were taken east of Scotts Bluff County. Common to roadsides and overgrazed areas.
Neat Stuff: Sometimes cultivated for attractive foliage. Dakota Indians reportedly made a tea from the plant and gave it to mothers experiencing trouble with lactation. Running Mallow

Running Mallow

Family: Mallow Family, Malvaceae
General: Small plant growing close to the ground with very small white flower. Inhabits many parts of the United States. Its most notable relative is the Purple Poppy Mallow that can be found in the eastern part of the state. Flowers throughout the summer beginning in June and extending into September. Here at the Center it can usually be found along the roadsides of the preserve. Unknown


Candidates Include Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family), Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family) False Boneset

False Boneset

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
Photos Taken: 8/30 at Monument
General: Native Perennial; Late bloomer, flowering in August and into October. Found in sandy soils in the dry prairies. Named due to the resemblance to the true boneset of the Eupaterium genus. Sweet Sand Verbena

Sweet Sand Verbena

Family: Four-O' Clock Family, Nyctaginaceae
A.K.A.: Heart's Delight, Prairie Snowball
Photos Taken: 7/1 at Buffalo Creek
General: Native Perennial; Found in the mid-summer months, but flowers late in the afternoon/evening. Often found on disturbed sites in grassy areas. Another plant that you may not run across on the Center trails. Can be found on roadsides, especially north of Scottsbluff. to the top Umbrellawort


Family: Nyctaginaceae, Four-o’ Clock Family
General: Found throughout the western plains, inhabits dry sandy areas. Can also be found in rocky areas. Flower is not distinct and easily missed although the plant can reach upwards of three feet in height. Flowers on any individual plant last only a short time but the plant blooms from June to September. It is thought that the name is derived from the resemblance the flower has to an umbrella. For our money the flower of the Night shade plant looks way better as an umbrella!! Whorled Milkweed

Whorled Milkweed

Family: Milkweed family, Asclepiadaceae
General: Asclepias verticillata is the species. This photo is of an early stage in its growth. The plant flowers here at the center from mid July through August. It is actually an infrequent inhabitant in the western regions, being much more common in the east. Leaves are very narrow and as the plant grows the early bundle of blossoms will separate from each other and be widely spaced on the stem. Upon close examination of an individual flower you will easily see the similarities to other milkweeds of the area. Rumex


Family: Buckwheat Family, Polygonaceae
A.K.A.: Yellow Dock, Curly Dock, Lengua de Vaca
Photos Taken: 6/16, 7/20 at Wildcat Hills
General: Very common to the area, although you are more likely to see it along the highways rather than the nature center trails. Plant undergoes an extreme color change as the season progresses. The left hand photo a shot in early season, the right hand shot is of the much more conspicuous mature late season plant.
Neat Stuff: Some uses include acting as a laxative, treatments for blood disorders, skin diseases, rheumatism and indigestion. A related species known as sheep sorrel is a summer food for ruffed grouse and Canada geese. Milk Vetch (Alkali)r

Milk Vetch (Alkali)r

Family: Pea Family, Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
A.K.A.: Creamy Poison-vetch, racemed locoweed.
General: Found in dry soils, grasslands and disturbed places. The plant reportedly accumulates the element selenium from soils very well. Like its close relative the purple locoweed this plant had a variety of impacts on livestock who generally leave it alone. Symptoms can be as varied as “aimless wandering” to blindness and death. Wild Licorice

Wild Licorice

Family: Bean Family, Fabaceae
A.K.A.: Amollilo, Sweet Root
Photos Taken: 7/1 at Wildcat Hills
General: Native Perennial; Be sure to check your socks when you leave, our very unscientific research suggests that if you got within 10 feet of this plant you may be carrying a seed pod with you. Tall plant found in several places along the trails.
Neat Stuff: Several uses including root extracts for reducing fevers in children, blood clotting, and inducing menstral flow. Similar European species yields the ingredients for commercial licorice. Raw roots reportedly taste somewhat like sweet potatoes. Can also be an effective placebo for those who are smokers trying to quit. Wild Licorice

Wild Licorice

General: Mature Plant with recognizable hitch hikers!!! to the top