Sunday, September 21, 2014

Prairie Wild Rose

The Prairie Wild Rose, Rosa arkansana, is found from Texas northwest to British Columbia and northeast to Ontario and New York. The species is common in the western Tall Grass Pairie region. Erika and I were beginning our second journey of 2014, when, in July, we visited the Pipestone National Monument in southwestern Minnesota.

The Prairie Rose’s petals are initially bright lavender, but quickly fade to white. According to the University of North Dakota, various indigenous peoples used these roses for emergency food and treating burns and eye ailments. Europeans made wine and tea from the rose buds. Contemporary herbalists report that rose hips “can be eaten raw, stewed, candied, made into a jelly, or beverage.” The hips are high in calcium, iron, and phosphorus.

Rose flowers are also important for bees. The insect is this photo, however is a bee look-alike, a syrphid (or hover) fly. They do not sting, but look like they might. Adults often feed on nector and pollen; larva often feed on aphids. There are about 6,000 species worldwide (Bugguide; King, pers. comm).

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