I spent some time at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refugee over the weekend working with the annual butterfly count they host. If you have never been to Big Oaks you are truly missing out on a unique experience, the refugee offers a diversity of life that has few rivals in the Midwest.
I pulled this from their site…
Big Oaks Refuge contains the largest unfragmented forested block in southeastern Indiana and some of the largest grassland areas found within the region. The refuge provides habitat for 120 species of breeding birds, the Federally endangered Indiana bat, and 41 species of fish. The refuge also is home to white-tailed deer, wild turkey, river otters, and coyotes. Over 25 State-listed animal species and over 46 State-listed plant species have been discovered to date on the refuge. Many bird species of management concern are also found here, including Henslow’s sparrows and cerulean warblers. Over 800 singing male Henslow’s sparrows use the large grasslands on the refuge. Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge has been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area because of its value to Henslow’s sparrows and other migratory birds.
While working with the count I refugee volunteer told me about a rare wildflower thta grows in the area and told me of the location and I was able to get back and photograph this truly unique little wildflower.
Virginia Meadow Beauty is the flower and it is a really cool addition to the many other wildflowers I have been able to share with you over the years. According to the Illinois wildflower website….The Meadow Beauty is considered not common. This native perennial wildflower is ½–2½’ tall and largely unbranched, except near the apex where some lateral stems with flowers are usually produced. Short plants are erect, while tall plants sometimes sprawl across the ground. The central stem is light green to purplish green, sharply 4-angled, narrowly winged, and sparsely to moderately covered with glandular hairs. Pairs of opposite leaves occur along the central stem; they are up to 3″ long and 1¼” across, medium green, sharply toothed and ciliate along their margins, hairless to slightly hairy across their upper and lower surfaces, and sessile. The central stem and upper lateral stems (if present) terminate in short cymes of showy flowers. The branches of each cyme are usually glandular-hairy. Each flower is 1–1½” across, consisting of 4 widely spreading petals that are pink to deep rose-pink, a tubular calyx with 4 widely spreading triangular teeth, 8 stamens with bright yellow to orange-yellow anthers, and a 4-celled ovary with a single long style. The tubular calyx is shaped like a vase with a constricted neck; it is covered with long bristly hairs. The long slender anthers are curved like a sickle; the pollen of each anther is released through a small pore at one end. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 1-2 months. Each flower is replaced by a seed capsule that remains hidden within the persistent calyx; the calyx becomes red to purplish red after the petals fall off the flower. Each seed capsule contains numerous tiny seeds that are less than 1 mm. in length. The root system is fibrous; some fibrous roots have tuberous swellings. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself.
And here a few examples of this awesome little flower and the wonderful structure they posses, hope you enjoy the post and info and if you are ever out hunting wildflowers maybe you will be able to come across this great piece of nature !!