These are some of the wildflowers in the book “Nebraska Wildflowers” published by the University of Nebraska Press on November 1, 1972 that I have found to do well in my yard (zone 5) and have not been too difficult to find in a garden center. In general they do pretty well as long as you know heir habits.  Some like water and others not, some clay, and some sand. So I try to find what part of the state they do best in so I know where to put them.

          Solomons seal (Polygonatum biflorum) is quite often found in Lincoln’s garden in shady areas. Mine spreads by roots and is about 3 feet tall but I read they can be 8 feet on slender stems with many leaves 2 to 6 inches long.  Their interesting part are the greenish white flowers that hang under the leaves. These develop into a black berry that hangs on until frost. Another shady native is the May Apple (Podophyllum pelatum).  The hills at Indian Cave State Park are covered with stalks ending in a single leaf most of the time.  These stalks are only 16 to 18 inches high but the leaf may be 10 to 12 inches across and again a flower followed by an “apple” hangs down under. The apple (one inch) is edible but the rest of the plant is toxic.  Many years ago I received one plant that spreads by roots rather fast.  The leaf is handsome and makes a neat background in a vase.

          Another wildflower native I see in many Lincoln yards is the Yucca (Yucca glauca).  The blooms may be as tall as 7 to 8 feet where they receive water.  They are among the toughest and most persistent plant I have met and tried to dig out. Since they do best in dry, well drained soil, their roots are deep and where I dug a number of new plants appeared. Those tall stalks lined with white blooms for several feet are especially gorgeous at night.  The ends of the leaves are swords and their sides are sharp as knives. They belong to the Lily family.

          I have had Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis) for many years and believed it was a Nebraska wild flower but now find out the pioneer women brought it in their pockets.  It has scattered over a good deal of the United States and was a favorite flower in pioneer gardens.  Also called “Soap Worte, the sap can be used to clean your hands.  It has pink and white blooms for bouquets. This plant is about 2 feet tall and spreads by roots quite fast but it is very easy to pull.      

          Canadian Columbine is a bi-colored flower of red and yellow, coming from woods and rocky slopes. It will dominate the hybrid Columbines if you plant them in the same bed.  They bloom quite early in April, go to seed immediately, and then dry up during a hot summer, but not before shedding a number of seeds.  I cut the dried seed heads and lay them down wherever I want a new bed.  The tiny plants will soon be up and bloom the next spring.

          If you like variegated plants, “Snow on the Mountain” (Euphorbia marginata) is a good example.  Many people consider it to be a weed as it can cover space rather fast.  In a good year it may be 3 feet tall.  Flowers are not its main “thing” but the white edged leaves (bracts) are. Sometimes called Ghost Weed it looks good among bright flowered plants. A number of people in Lincoln have it in their yards. As with common names there is another “Snow on the Mountain” in many yards and it is very invasive and will grow most anywhere It is usually only about 12 inches tall, so be careful when looking for a plant. There is also a green form. Be careful as many people are allergic to the sap of the Euphorbia family

          Another creeping plant that I have in the “hell strip” is the Purple Poppy Mallow that insists on going into the street.  It is also called “Wine Cup” with a very vivid purple color.  If you have a rock or other structure, it will creep over to show off. They like it hot and dry so should not be in a spot in winter with wet roots.  Starting to bloom in June it continues for several months.  You can not miss that color no matter where it is. 

          A dainty, water loving, 12 inch plant that likes shade is the Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pauciforum). They go dormant after flowering. Each bloom has a sharp “nose” with trailing petals shooting out behind.  I have never been able to get it to form a colony so watch closely in early spring for my 2 plants or you will miss them.

          The book “Nebraska Wildflowers” was written by Robert C. Lommasson, retired professor of botany at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A native of Kansas, he holds A.B. and M.A. degrees from the University of Kansas and the Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. This book was printed November 1, 1972 with 260 color plates of the plants. Used copies are available on the internet from Amazon, Powell Books, and other used book outlets. Most are trade paper copies, some in very good condition. Copyright 2012