One of my Master Gardener Projects involves looking for and identifying Native Iowa plants that are currently in the ditches around our township. We live on the ‘border’ of
The most important ‘job’ of being a Master Gardener is educating others. I thought blogging some of this adventure might educate some of you on the Iowa Native Plants. You may have forgotten about htem, or were never aware of them. So, I’ll be blogging a few of these adventures along the way.
One of the first steps involved to educating me. What better place to go than the
Tuesday evening I went back out to take a few pictures on my own, and Bill wanted to come along. I warned him not to expect something totally spectacular, but he was welcome to come. This was going to, at first, look like a large grassy area. He seemed to have a good time, and before long he was pointing out plants to me. We’ll go back every few weeks to see the changes in the prairie plants that are currently 12-24” tall, as some of these plants will reach 6-12’ in height!
Here’s a picture of the prairie.
The first one we encountered was the “Cup Plant”.
(This is what it will look like in another month or so)
This Native perennial, a member of the Aster family, gets between 4-10’ tall with yellow ‘sun’ type flowers. The name comes form the way it’s thick leaves are attached to it’s thick stem.
They attached to form a ‘cup’ that literally holds water. The story told to us was that the settlers would find this plant and drink the water held in it’s leaves. It was also used as a chewing gum and the young leaves could be cooked for eating.
This is what it looked like on Tuesday 5/25)
(See the water in the "Cup")
Researchers are also exploring whether the cup plant could be grown in low, moist prairies generally unfit for cropland. It would be grown and processed along with native grasses grown for biomass.
Bill of course thinks we should plant some, so we have water always within reach.
From now on when you’re thirsty you can ask,
“Where’s a good ole' CUP PLANT when you need one!!”