September 16, 2023
Autumn shows its own colors–the waxy red bulbous seed pods of prickly pear cactus, the translucent seed pods of partridge pea, the purplish red of sumac and the gold of prairie grasses, the frilly blues and whites of so many kinds of asters whose names we don’t yet know.
And the vivid blue of downy gentians.
Downy gentians open to the sun–you won’t find them blooming brightly on cloudy days, and if you wait too late on a sunny day to photograph one, you may find it closing with the waning sunlight (we know, we waited too long once).
On a morning of late prairie splendor we go looking for downy gentians on a hillside and find first one, then another, and then so many we quit counting them all. The plants nestle down in the grass, shaded enough that they’re still closed when we begin to spot them–but not so tightly closed that a bumblebee can’t force her way in and back out again. As the sun rises higher, the blossoms unfold until we’re surrounded by a motherlode of brilliant gentian blue.
We wander the rest of the prairie. A snake crawls across the path. Wind sways the grasses. The blue sky opens overhead.
Any time is a good time to be on a prairie, but this morning is especially glorious.
Glorious with gentians.
See more of Minnesota’s native gentians HERE!