Salix humilis – Prairie Willow
This shrub is 2-8′ tall, often branching near the base and toward the tips of older stems. Woody stems are terete and variably colored – usually some shade of yellowish tan, brown, or gray. Young woody stems are often short-pubescent, but they become glabrous with age. New shoots are light green and short-pubescent. Alternate leaves occur along young stems and shoots. The leaf blades are 1¾-4″ long and ¼-¾” across; they are narrowly lanceolate, oblanceolate, or oblong-elliptic in shape and smooth to slightly crenate along their margins. The margins are often revolute (curved downward) as well. The upper surface of the leaf blades is medium green or grayish green and glabrous to sparsely short-pubescent, while the lower surface (for this variety of Prairie Willow) is short-pubescent and sometimes whitened. The petioles are ¼-½” in length and short-pubescent. At the base of the petioles, lanceolate stipules are sometimes found.
Senna hebecarpa – Wild Senna
Host Plant – Sulphur, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur
Wild Senna is a versatile plant that we think deserves more recognition as a great choice for garden or restoration projects. Its lovely, bright yellow flowers bloom July-August, attracting many bees and butterflies. Autumn brings beautiful leaf colors and the formation of long black pods with seeds favored by larger birds like wild turkeys. A horizontal root system provides strength against winds, allowing the plant’s stately (4-6′) beauty to be appreciated even after the storm. Some gardeners use this sun-loving plant to form a hedge.
It is virtually indistinguishable from its relative, Maryland Senna (Senna marilandica) until the two species have ripe seeds. The Wild Senna will readily open its pod and the seeds will fall out, whereas the Maryland Senna seed pods will stay tightly closed. Other than this, it is very hard to tell the two species apart.
Viburnum dentatum – Arrowwood Viburnum
Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prune immediately after flowering since flower buds form in summer for the following year.
Arrowwood viburnum is an upright, rounded, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub which typically matures to 6-10′ tall with a similar spread, but may reach a height of 15′ in optimum growing conditions. Non-fragrant white flowers in flat-topped corymbs (to 4″ diameter) appear in late spring. Flowers give way to blue-black, berry-like drupes which are quite attractive to birds and wildlife. Ovate, toothed, glossy dark green leaves (to 4″ long). Variable fall color ranges from drab yellow to attractive shades of orange and red. Although widespread in eastern North America, this native plant is only known to exist in the wild in Missouri on wooded slopes along the Salt River in Shelby County. Native Americans reportedly used the straight stems of this shrub for arrow shafts, hence the common name.
No serious insect or disease problems.
Zizia aurea – Golden Alexanders
Zizia aurea is one of those natives that every garden should have. It is fairly easy to grow and, although short-lived, will self-seed and persist in many sun/soil situations. Zizia is an important plant to a number of short-tongued insects that are able to easily reach the nectar in the small yellow flowers. Black Swallowtail caterpillars will feed on its leaves.
Golden Alexanders have a long bloom time, giving the garden/prairie some well-deserved early color for several weeks in late spring to early summer when many other plants have not yet flowered. Also called Golden Zizia, Golden Alexanders will tolerate a lot of shade but prefer full sun or light shade.