In this section, we will take a deep-dive into the many native plants growing in the area.
Native to Eurasia, this herbaceous perennial plant has been naturalized in large parts of North America. Its highly adaptable and resilient nature makes it well suited to the harsh climates of Saskatchewan as well as an excellent low-maintanence ornamental plant.
Wormwood can be used either fresh or dried. All the aerial portions (stem, leaves and flowers) of the plant have medicinal uses. The essential oil is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops by steam distillation.
This plant is the source of the medicine artemisinin, the most powerful antimalarial drug known to man!
Its leaves are greenish-grey, arranged in a spiral pattern, and covered with silky silvery-white hairs. Each leaf contains thousands of tiny oil-producing glands which release a powerful sage-like aroma when crushed. Its flowers appear as clusters of pale yellow beads. They will flower from early summer to early autumn and produce small seeds.
The iconic green botanical spirit “Absinthe” is made using Wormwood! A number of other alcoholic beverages also use this herb as flavoring.
Speak to your doctor before using wormwood to treat any serious illness or if you have any condition which may conflict with the medicinal chemicals present in the plant. It can be poisonous in large doses.
Also known as flattened meadow-grass, this perennial meadow grass is a close relative of Kentucky Bluegrass. Despite its common name, Poa compressa is native to Europe and can be found throughout the world as an introduced species.
This daring adventurer can often be found growing on old wall tops and in cracks in the pavement. In the wild, it can be found in many different habitats, particularly dry stony grassland.
It has a flattened stem which grows to be between 23–30 cm tall, and a close one-sided grey-green panicle, with purple florets. The outgrowth at the junction of its leaf and leafstalk (called a ligule) is rounded.
That… uh… grass tastes bad?
… nah I got nothin’.
This short, tuft-forming perenial grass is native to North America and Eurasia, this ubiquitous species of grass is known as crested hair-grass in the UK.
- It is good forage for many types of grazing animals, a staple for farm animals and wildlife alike.
- It is classified as a severe allergen in humans with grass allergy.
- It is fire-resistant and has been seeded in many areas to reduce wildfires.
- It is very low-maintenance and is often used as turf for golf course roughs.
- The leaves of the plant can be woven together to make brooms or brushes.
- The sturdy turf made by the plant’s roots makes for an excellent and well-insulating building material for sod houses.
- The seeds can be ground into a powder that can be boiled with water like a porridge or made into flour for bread.
This grass reaches heights from 20–70 cm. The blue-green leaves grow from the base of the stalk and grow to be up to 20cm each. The inflorescence (seed cluster) is nearly cylindrical and tapers toward the tip. It holds shiny tan or green spikelets which are sometimes tinted purple, each about half a centimeter long. Its fruit is a grain that breaks once it has fully ripened.
Native to the Americas, this slender green grass is widespreas throughout the western hemisphere. It is extremely salt-tolerant (hence its name) and can often be found growing in dry, arid regions, salt flats, disturbed soil, and scrubland. It thrives in salty and alkaline soils by excreting excess salts from its tissues via unique salt glands.
The grass forms sturdy sod with its hearty root system. Speaking of roots, its rhizomes (subterranean stems) have sharp points which allow it to penetrate hard soils. Despite its preference for dry soil, it can grow in mud and even underwater!
Distichlis spicata is a hardy perennial erect grass which occasionally approaches half a meter in height but is generally shorter. The solid, stiff stems have narrow leaves up to 10 centimeters in length, which may be crusted with salt in saline environments.
This species is dioecious, meaning the male flowers and female flowers grow on separate individuals. The flower parts of both sexes may be bright pinkish-purple.
The Common Dandelion (often simply called “dandelion”), is a flowering herbaceous perennial plant in the same large family as daisies and sunflowers. It can be found growing in temperate regions of the world, in lawns, on roadsides, on disturbed banks and shores of water ways, and other areas with moist soils. It is well known for its yellow flower heads that turn into round balls of silver tufted seeds that disperse in the wind. These balls are called “blowballs“.
The dandelion is a common colonizer of disturbed habitats, with seeds remaining viable for up to nine years. This species is a somewhat prolific seed producer, with 54 to 172 seeds produced per head, a single plant can produce more than 5,000 seeds a year.
It is estimated that nearly 100,000,000 seeds/hectare could be produced yearly by a dense stand of dandelions.
While the Common Dandelion was introduced to North America by European settlers in the 17th century as a food crop, some species of dandelion are native to Canada!
While considered by many to be nothing more than a weed, the Common Dandelion is an incredibly useful and versatile plant both as a medical herb and in food preparation.
Around the world, different cultures have vastly different recipes featuring dandelion parts. Sweet or savoury, hot or cold, there are a thousand and one ways to prepare dandelion-based foods!
The specific name officinalis refers to its value as a medicinal herb, and is derived from the word opificina, meaning a pharmacy. Dandelion has been used as a herbal remedy throughout history, in Europe, North America, and even China. The leaves are high in Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C, and carry more Iron and Calcium than spinach!
Other health benefits of Dandelion include:
Come on, do you REALLY need me to tell you what a dandelion looks like?
T. officinale has a fossil record that goes back to glacial and interglacial times in Europe, over 15,000 years ago!
An obvious relative of the Dandelion, this plant is also known as wild oysterplant or yellow salsify. It is generally regarded as edible as well: The root can be eaten raw or cooked and so can the young stems.
Sometimes called gill-over-the-ground, catsfoot, or creeping charlie, this leafy green was introduced to North America in much the same way as Dandelions: by European settlers as a food crop. It is now well established in many places throughout the world, including right here at home!
Despite its reputation as an aggressive and invasive weed, this beautiful plant makes an excellent salad green!
Glechoma hederacea can be identified by its round or kidney/fan-shaped leaves with round-toothed edges. The leaves are suspended on 3 to 6 cm long stalks attached to square stems. Like crabgrass, creeping charlie’s root has a ball.
Its size is strongly influenced by its environment, growing small as 5 cm to as tall as 50 cm in height depending on the location!
Not to be confused with common mallow (Malva neglecta), which also has round, lobed leaves. The difference is that mallow leaves are attached to the stem at the back of a circular leaf, whereas ground ivy has leaves which are attached in the center of the leaf.
Named for its rough, tongue-like leaves, the houndstongue was accidentally introduced to North America from Europe. Its leaves are oblong, greyish, and softly haired. Its small funnel-shaped flowers can be red, purple, blue, or white, and bloom between May and September.
In 1725, houndstooth was presented in the family dictionary, Dictionaire oeconomique, as part of a cure for madness!
This unfriendly herb shares its family with the Sunflower and Dandelion: Asteraceae. Like most of the plants of this list, it is native to Europe. It can grow almost anywhere that isn’t super wet, super dry, or super shady, which is pretty much everywhere in Saskatchewan. This speedy invader spreads rapidly in disturbed soil and after landslides or flooding.
The leaves are dark green, with a smooth, waxy surface and sharp whitish spines at the tips of the lobes. Later in the year, this plant will bear showy bright purple globular flowers.
Can you help me identify these interesting strangers?
1. Maybe some sort of plantain?
2. Pale green, soft and fuzzy!
3. Bright green, densely packed soft needle-like leaves.
4. Possibly like a sapling or something?
Join us in learning about the different species of creature which call the area home!
Check back again soon to learn about House Sparrows, Rock Doves, butterflies and bumblebees as well as the White-Tailed Jackrabbit who lives nearby!
– Carter, June 1st, 2019
That’s right, folks.
The weed-wacker man came and reaped the land of plenty.
This lot wasn’t hurting anyone, it wasn’t being used. Just a nice bit of natural green space filled with living things trying to make their way in the world just like the rest of us.
Now I’m afraid to write about the animals out here for fear of the same mysterious lunatic wacking them all too!