Wildflowers: Yellows

Prairie Buckbean

Prairie Buckbean

Family: Bean Family, Fabaceae
A.K.A.: Prairie Golden Pea, Yellow Pea, Prairie Bean, False Lupine
General: Native Perennial; Another early bloomer, very abundant, frequently found in large patches one being very near the center to the north and east along the trail.
Neat Stuff: Lakota indians used the plant to create a theraputic smoke isolated to extremities suffering from rheumatism. It reportedly reduced swelling and pain. Common Sunflower

Common Sunflower

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
General: Native Annual; State flower of Kansas, however, can be found from the foothills of the Rockies to the east coast. Flowers late from July to September. Sunflowers pose unique problems for the novice botanist, there are tons of them. This one is known as the common, tall, usually in excess of three feet. This species does not have a white spot in the center of the flower which differentiates it from the Prairie Sunflower.
Neat Stuff: Native Americans hybridized these plants selecting for large seeds perhaps increasing seed size as much as 1000X. Seeds used for food or extracted oils for cooking. This is the wild ancestor of the commercially grown varieties. Plains Prickly Pear

Plains Prickly Pear

Family: Cactus Family, Cactaceae
General: Native Perennial; Most common of the two species in the Panhandle. Spines can do some damage and capable of going through the soles of tennis shoes. Large yellow flowers are hard to miss, appearing from May through June. Flowers have large petals and a large green stigma on the pistil (the centrally located female component). Plant does extremely well in overgrazed pastures and disturbed areas, like all cactuses thrives under dry conditions.
Neat Stuff: Fruit is edible, jams and jellies can be made using the cactus fruits. Wallflower


Family: Mustard Family, Brassicaceae
A.K.A.: Yellow Phlox, Prairie Rocket
General: Native Biennial or Perennial; Early bloomer and very abundant at the Center. Plant reaches about one foot in height with tons of flowers clustered at the top. Related to a number of plants that are noted for their peppery taste. As a matter of fact, commercial mustard preparations begin with the grinding of seeds produced by various members of this family.
Neat Stuff: This family was formerly called the Cruciferae, a reference to the petals of the flowers being arranged to resemble a cross. Goatsbeard


Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Western or Meadow Salsify
General: Introduced Biennial; It seems that just about everyone recognizes this flower. Blooms from May to August and even into September. Depending on your travels and locale this just might be the flower you see most often during the summer! Very common to roadsides and disturbed sites in general, can be found in town as easily as in its natural habitats.
Neat Stuff: Once mature the fruits are released from the plant much like those of a dandilion except this is much larger. Seeds easily dispersed on the ever-present Nebraska breezes. Roots are edible tasting like parsnips or oysters (I bet you thought it might taste like chicken!). Plains Yellow Primrose

Plains Yellow Primrose

Family: Evening Primrose Family, Onagraceae
A.K.A.: Tooth Leaved or Cutleaf Evening Primrose
General: Native Perennial; This plant flowers from late May to July. Also very common to the Center trails, you may even see this primrose in close proximity to its cousin the Lavender Leafed Primrose. Grows primarily in dry, gravelly soils. Interesting in that it does not grow up but rather out, therefore, the plant is wide rather than tall with many branches bearing a flower about one inch across. Like many of the natives of the area it is well adapted to dry conditions. Common adaptations include a deep taproot to gather water and narrow leaves to lessen water loss.
Neat Stuff: One unique feature of this primrose in comparison to its cousins in the area is that the flowers will remain open throughout the day. to the top Yellow Sweet Clover

Yellow Sweet Clover

Family: Pea Family, Leguminosae
General: Cousin of the White Sweet Clover also found at the center. As a matter of fact you are likely to find the two together. Flowers from June to August, usually occurs in large patches. Is a great bee plant and if used by bees for nectar can give a pleasant flavor to the honey. Also commonly occurs in pastures and roadsides. Narrow Leaved Puccoon

Narrow Leaved Puccoon

Family: Borage Family, Boraginaceae
A.K.A.: Gromwell
General: Native Perennial; Very pretty little yellow flower found more frequently east of the Center at Buffalo Creek. Found in grasslands and near woodlands. Plants reach about one foot in height and like so many of our local plants, has flowers growing in clusters at the top.
Neat Stuff: This plant has provided a red dye extracted from the roots of the plant. The genus name Lithospermum is translated to mean "stone seed" indicative of the hard nature of the fruit produced by this flower. Unknown


If you recognize it please let us know!!! Prairie Groundsel

Prairie Groundsel

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Prairie Ragwort
General: Native Biennial, Short Lived Perennial; Flowers usually from May to June, however we found some as late as August. Can be found at the Center but is not frequent. It seems you have to be lucky on this one. Tall plant with a cluster of flowers at the top of the stem. There may be up to ten flowers per cluster. This species is variable with up to 20 species found in the great plains.
Neat Stuff: We discovered that these plants are capable of producing a toxin that can cause liver damage. A condition called stomach staggers is reported in grazers. Although we are not sure what that is, it does not sound good! False Dandilion

False Dandilion

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
General: Native Perennial; One of the earliest of this family to bloom, flowering in April and into Late May. Grows from taproot producing leaves that are long and slender and a flower that resembles. . . you guessed it, a dandilion. This is a larger version of its better known cousin. The flower opens early in the day and closes by late afternoon.
Neat Stuff: One significant difference between this plant and the common dandilion is in the way in which seeds are dispersed. The common uses parachute like apparatus to blow in the wind, the false dandilion seeds have bristles and more often hitch rides on hides or socks. Nuttall's Violet

Nuttall's Violet

Family: Violet Family, Violaceae
General: Native Perennial; Many folks are surprised to find a violet that isn't violet! It's yellow and is the only yellow grassland violet in the region. This pretty little flower arrives early in the season, popping up in April and into May. Very common to the Nature Center area, easily found along trails. There aren't many other flowers at this time to compete for your attention. to the top Indian Blanket

Indian Blanket

Genus: Gaillardia
A.K.A.: Firewheel, Blanket Flower
General: Not a usual inhabitant here in the area. It appears to be introduced during revegitation activity associated with roadwork. One of several species that is plentiful along the roadsides in the state. There is a great story associated with this flower of an old man that wove blankets. Nearing death he wove his greatest work. Upon death the Great Spirit, seeing the beauty of the blanked, decided to recreate the beauty the next spring with this flower growing from the old mans grave. As legend has it the flower is an approximation of the appearance of the old mans final creation. Golden Aster

Golden Aster

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Prairie or Hairy Golden Aster
General: Native Perennial; Readily found on Center trails and at Buffalo Creek. Usually not very tall but is many branched and spreads to cover larger areas. Long taproots and hairy leaves allow it to cope effectively with the summer conditions representative of Western Nebraska. A bit of a late bloomer, not appearing until July but does flower into August and September. Not frequently found in Eastern Nebraska. Greenthread (Cota)

Greenthread (Cota)

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Indian Tea, Rayless Thelesperma
General: Related to another plant by the same name here locally but appears quite different. Most notable is the absence of rays characteristic of the sunflower group. Those are the petals you pull off when playing ďHe/She love me, loves me notĒ. It has been reported that certain Native American tribes such as the Pueblo of the Southwest use this plant in a tea. Ground Cherry

Ground Cherry

Family: Nightshade Family, Solanaceae
A.K.A.: Husk or Strawberry Tomato
General: Native Perennial; Photographs taken at Buffalo Creek but your best bet to find this one would be looking at field margins and irrigation ditches. One of two common species in the state. One could easily walk by this plant without giving it a second look due to the flowers being more greenish than bright yellows like many others. In addition the flowers tend to face downward rather than up making them hard to see unless you are really looking for them.
Neat Stuff: Green fruit is poisonous but after maturing toward the fall becomes edible. Its more notable relatives include the tomato, bell pepper. Stemless Hymenoxy's

Stemless Hymenoxy's

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Bitterweed
Photos Taken: 6/23 on Hwy 71, 7/8 at Roubidoux
General: Native Perennial; We did not find many of these in the area but those we did find were located on rocky, dry sites. Might need to do some climbing to find this one. We did find one with a bit easier access along the trail at the top of Scotts Bluff National Monument. You might want to take a quick side excursion.
Neat Stuff: The plant is not actually stemless as its name suggests. The flower resides on a stalk that is leafless, they commonly grow in "tufts" similarly to other species that grow in the rocky areas. Golden Current

Golden Current

Genus: Ribes
General: Fairly plentiful here at the center. One of two species in the Ribes genus that can be found. The other produces a white flower in contrast to the Golden Currents yellow with the red center. This species lacks spines indicative of the other current known as Gooseberry. It produces berries that are made into jellies and wines. Regional Native American tribes also used the ripened berries in their pemmican. You will likely run across this shrub in urban settings as well due to its popularity as an ornamental shrub. to the top Bladderpod


Family: Mustard Family, Brassicaceae
General: We were unsure of this one for quite a while but it is closely related to the Western Wallflower. Its name is derived from the small fruiting pods easily seen when the plant matures. More common to the main trail out at Buffalo Creek rather than the Center itself. It inhabits dry, sandy, lowlying areas.
Neat Stuff: Animals apparently have no desire to eat this plant, although we found no reference as to why this is. We suspect the peppery taste common to this family makes it rather unappealing. Lavender Leafed Primrose

Lavender Leafed Primrose

Family: Evening Primrose Family, Onagraceae
A.K.A.: Hartweg Evening Primrose
General: Native Perennial; Great little flower growing from taproots, found in "tufts" in rocky sites along Center trails. One of a number of primroses in the western part of the state. The flowers are usually pretty large and their yellow color will easily catch your eye. Golden Corydalis

Golden Corydalis

Family: Fumitory Family, Fumariaceae
General: Short plant, between four inches and one foot, early flowering, perhaps as early as April. Leaves finely divided. More common to the eastern part of the state. Stem thick, flowers appear to be attached in the middle of a petal rather than the base of the flower Common Dandilion

Common Dandilion

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Pain in the Lawn!!!!
General: It is highly doubtful you didnít know what this wonderful flower was. Dandilion is French for Lionís tooth. This flower can be found in virtually every temperate region of the world. It is a great opportunist actually taking advantage of the stresses suffered by our lawns, mowing, fertilizing, watering . . . but it does not compete well against thriving wild grass communities. You will find this out at the center only in disturbed areas where mowing and trail grooming occur. Buffalo Bur

Buffalo Bur

Family: Nightshade Family, Solanaceae
A.K.A.: Beaked or Prickly Nightshade, Prickly Potato, Texas Nettle, Kansas Thistle
General: Native Annual; Fortunately for the hiker, not very abundant at the Center. Much more commonly found along roadsides, field margins, fields and gardens. Fairly short with multiple stems that are fortified with spines. This plant does not stop there. The undersides of leaves also contain spines and the eventual fruit of the flower is covered with spines. The fruit is more commonly called a sticker and has an amazing attraction to socks, shoelaces and pant legs. This of course illustrates its common method of seed dispersal, hitchhiking. When the fruit (sticker) is opened numerous black seeds can be found. Greenthread


Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Nippleweed
Photos Taken: South Stage Hill (Wildcats)
General: Native Annual; Reaches a height of about a foot and flowers from June to August. Commonly found in dry gravelly sites, disturbed sites and roadsides. This particular flower was found south of the Nature Center in a dry, disturbed grazing area. to the top Prairie Coneflower

Prairie Coneflower

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Long-headed or Upright Prairie Coneflower
General: Native Perennial; Easy to see how this one was named. Commonly found along trails and roadsides of Nebraska. The cone is actually a cluster of disk flowers, a characteristic common to the sunflower family. The petals are actually a different kind of flower known as a ray flower. The cone itself resembles a thimble and even to some an immature pinecone.
Neat Stuff: Fruits are very similar to the regular sunflower we are familiar with although these are obviously much smaller. The Oglala Sioux reportedly made teas from the flower. Prairie Goldenrod

Prairie Goldenrod

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Missouri Goldenrod
General: There are about 25 species of goldenrods in the great plains, many are very hard to identify. Although we are fairly confident in the identification of this one there is a descent chance we are wrong. The Canada Goldenrod would be another possibility. One of the reasons this is likely the Prairie is due to its early blooming time. This one was blooming in mid July, many of the others will not appear until August or September. The previously Canada Goldenrod is the state flower of Nebraska Puncture Vine

Puncture Vine

Family: Caltrop Family, Zygophyllaceae
A.K.A.: Puncture Weed, Goat Head, Ground Bur-nut, Sand Bur
General: Naturalized Annual; Here we have the scourge of bicycle innertubes, shoes, socks, bare feet, dogs paws, you name it. The "Stickers" produced by this plant are quite formidable. Branches radiate away from the central root. You probably have this one in your alley or garden. You can easily find it in disturbed locations in town like alleys, building sites, cracks in sidewalks and driveways. The flower is very small and its low lying mode of life make it inaccessible for your lawn mower. Its structure can be highlighted by finding the central point of the plant and pulling it out of the ground. Yellow Flax

Yellow Flax

Family: Flax Family, Linaceae
A.K.A.: Pale Yellow Flax, (Eastern Variety: Grooved Flax)
General: Native Annual; Although more common in the east it can be found along Center trails. Appears to be very fragile with stems sprouting small yellow flowers that easily lose their petals. Each plant has numerous flowers but not all in bloom at the same time. The other yellow flax in the state is the Grooved Flax.
Neat Stuff: Cyanide compounds in the plant have been reported responsible for livestock poisonings. Cyanide itself interferes with the processes responsible for converting our fuels into energy at the cellular level. Prickly Lettuce

Prickly Lettuce

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Wild Lettuce, Milk or Horse Thistle, Compass Plant
General: Makes a home in disturbed sites, alleys, abandoned fields and roadsides. Put this together and you have a plant that isn't too tough to find in fact it is often considered a noxious weed. In addition it reaches heights in excess of three feet, with many branches containing numerous small yellow flowers at various stages of maturity. It is not uncommon to find new blossoms on the same plant containing flowers shedding seeds.
Neat Stuff: Thought to be ancestor of our common garden lettuce. If you have ever let your lettuce grow to its complete height you will easily notice the similarities. Milky juice from the stems has had several used including treatments for heartburn and stimulating appetite. Curly-top Gumweed

Curly-top Gumweed

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Curly-cup Gumweed
General: Native Biennial, Short Lived Perennial; Common to dry soils and disturbed sites, common to Center trails. Stem is branched and contains a yellow flower at the top. The leaves of the plant and the flower head produce a "gummy" resin. The small bracts on the flower head give this flower its name because they are curly.
Neat Stuff: Plains indians used the plant for several purposes including treatments for colic, bronchitis and whooping cough. The resin was used by pioneer children as chewing gum. to the top Plains Coreopsis

Plains Coreopsis

Family: Sunflower Family, Asteraceae
A.K.A.: Common Tickseed, Golden or Garden Coreopsis
General: Native Annual; Found more commonly in moist, low lying roadside areas. Can be found in large groups or patches. Frail looking plant with narrow stems with many flowers at the top of each. This particular patch was found in a roadside ditch along Hwy 71 just east of the Scotts Bluff National Monument.
Neat Stuff: We found that this plant is cultivated in the east and used as an ornamental flower. Yellow Wild Buckwheat

Yellow Wild Buckwheat

Family: Buckwheat (Polygonaceae)
Genus: Eriogonum
General: Resident of the western part of the state. This picture was taken northwest of the Nature Center on the grounds of Scotts Bluff National Monument. As you can see by the photo it can be found in what can be described as tough places to live, preferring gravelly circumstances, this site being eroded. Other members of this genus are the Umbrella Plant in the Sandhills region and the Cushion Buckwheat, Sulphur Buckwheat and Silver Plant to the west in more mountainous environments. Narrow Leaved Musineon

Narrow Leaved Musineon

Family: Parsley Family, Apiaceae
General: Like the Buckwheat of this page the Musineon is also an exclusive resident of the western part of the state and on into the western regions. It also prefers dry gravelly and rocky eroded areas. One can easily see that upon a quick viewing they closely resemble each other. Upon further examination they display a number of differences, most notably their leaves. There are at least two other Parsley species in the panhandle. The Wild Parsley is in fact edible, Native American groups using the dried plant to make flower for baking. Meadow Buttercup (We Think!!)

Meadow Buttercup (We Think!!)

Family: Buttercup Family, Ranunculaceae
General: Not entirely positive of this identification but we have a fair degree of confidence and unfortunately we do not have a great photo. Not prevalent at the Center. We may have gotten lucky to run across this plant. Possibly Sharp Buttercup. The sap of these plants is very caustic creating a burning of the mouth if injested and can create blisters on sensitive skin. If our identification is accurate it is a close relative to the Columbines found in the mountains to the west and the Larkspurs, one of which resides here in the Wild Cats. Common Evening Primrose

Common Evening Primrose

Family: Evening Primrose Family, Onagraceae
A.K.A.: Night Willow-herb, King-Cure All, Rampion, Scurvish
General: Native Biennial; This variety is more common in the east. We found it at Buffalo Creek and along numerous irrigation ditches in the area. The common evening primrose needs moist areas to grow. They are quite tall, often reaching three or more feet in height, not uncommon to find them in the five foot range. Flowers found in clusters at the top of the stem but not all flower at the same time. Likely to open in late afternoon and into the evening, closing by morning. Pollinated by nocturnal insects. Common Mullein

Common Mullein

Family: Figwort Family, Scrophulariaceae
A.K.A.: Flannel or Great Mullein, Candlewick
General: Naturalized Biennial; Comes to us from Europe, flowers in July and August and is found on roadsides, disturbed sites and creek beds. It is commonly found at Buffalo Creek to the east along the creek bed. Reaches tall heights sometimes in excess of five feet. Flowers occur in clusters at the top of the main stem, like many others in the area, only a few flowers are evident at any one time.
Neat Stuff: Uses include the fact that Romans used the flower spikes to create torches by dipping them into tallow and them burning them. The flowers have also been used to make yellow hair dye. to the top