You are here

Prairie Notes header

Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Prairie Treasure Chest

Prairie Notes #149
May 1, 2019

01) Prairie Treasure Chest

02) Fort Worth: Monarch Champion City

03) Field Report - April

04) New Species - April

05) Meadow Views - April

06) Sign o' the Times

07) Burn Area Update

08) PrairieSky / StarParty News 

09) Yoga on the Prairie Is Back

10) Purple Paintbrush Majesty

11) Prairie Proverb - Sir David Attenborough



01) Prairie Treasure Chest


It's happening again. The Iconic Meadow path is narrowing. The floristic diversity is swelling.  The spectrum of colors is widening. The pollinator species count is increasing as are the birds and the birdwatchers. The allure is hard to ignore. I'm knee-deep in wildflowers. In other words, It's spring on the prairie!


The transformation of the Tandy Hills prairie is a remarkable occurrence that, year after year, never fails to take my breath away. It's even better than usual this year after 7" of rain, as of April 30. A quick glance doesn't do. Better to walk the path and look down into that cosmos of jewels that rose up from the organic residua of its predecessors. And jewels they are, an abundance of color, texture, scent and pattern. If you go soon, you can see them spilling out of the prairie treasure chest.


But enough of my superlatives. Check out photos of these prairie jewels below in the Field Report and then set sail for Tandy Hills!





Prairie Celestial (Nemastylis geminiflora) may be the prettiest jewel in the prairie treasure chest.


02) Fort Worth: Monarch Champion City


I admit to being shocked by the news on April 17 that, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) had named Fort Worth, a Monarch Champion City, as part of their Mayor's Monarch Pledge program. Only four such cities have been thus named in North America. The honor is given for Fort Worth's commitment to monarch conservation including preserving and creating monarch habitat. 


Lots of people and groups have been encouraging the city including, Friends of Tandy Hills, who approached Mayor Price in 2016 about signing the Mayor's Monarch Pledge. She did just that at the Tandy Hills BioBlitz in 2016. Kudos to all who helped make this happen. Read the NWF press release here:



03) Field Report - April


Here's your treasure chest full of prairie jewels and their attendent critters for April. See #10, below, for a SPECIAL section on Purple Indian Paintbrush.


I'm a sucker for Winecups (Callirhoe pedata) when they look this striking, waving in the wind.


I observed all 4 colors in April including this pink one.


The interior of these flowers is kaleidoscopic.


After a rain shower, the Winecups turn into saucers.
Variegated Fritillary

This year, a few species like this Yellow Flax (Linum rigidum) have multiple flowers blooming simultaneously on a single stem.


Storks-bill (Erodium texanum) flowers and leaves ooze a sensual quality.


Checkered White Butterfly


Tiny purple flowers of Meadow Flax (Linum pratense) bloomed by the tens of thousands.


Dwarf Plantain (Plantago virginica) looks natural growing on the limestone prairie.

After a 4" rain, the Spittle Bugs were all over the Engelmann Sage plants like I've never seen before.

Texas Blue Star (Amsonia ciliata var. texana) holding forth into late April.


Slender False Pennyroyal (Hedeoma acinoides) has a jewel-like appearance, and is having a remarkable year.


Pearl Crescent tucking in for the night.

Fluttermill (Oenothera macrocarpa) stands out in the fading evening light.


Wild Hyacinth (Cammassia scilloides) spreads more each year beyond its secret domain.


A pair of Skippers resting on Hyacinth flowers.


As the Sun drops in the west, a White Larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum) stands alone in a field of Sundrops.


Queens Delight (Stillingia texana) is just starting to bloom in it's singular, monochromatic fashion.


Pearl Crescent 

Drummond's Onion flowers beckon your attention.


False Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea) loaded with blooms.


Tawny Emperor feeding on Antelopehorn Milkweed.


Sundrops (Oenothera berlandieri) infused with light, resemble crepe paper.


Swordleaf Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium sp) is another species showing multiple blooms per stem this year.


Prairie Brazoria (Warnockia scutellaroides) is uncommon and delightful to stumble upon.


Seven-spotted Lady Beetle deep inside a Wavyleaf Thistle (Cirsium undulatum).


Give your heart to the Western Kingbirds as they pick off pollinators above the Iconic Meadow.



04) New Species Report - April


As of Noon on April 30, there were 4 new species recorded on iNaturalist for April. However, I expect that number to grow once observations from the, just completed, City Nature Challenge are posted. The four include two desireables and two undesireables. See them below.


Snowberry Clearwing MothBrent Franklin, 4/05/19


Ripgut Brome (Bromus diandrus), Sam Kieschnick, 4/11/19, non-native invader.


Multiflora RoseSam Kieschnick, 4/11/19, can be a troublesome non-native.


Dot-winged BaskettailSam Kieschnick, 4/11/19


05) April Meadow Views


Close-ups are great but big picture prairie views are awesome. Here's a few that stood out in April:






06) Sign o' the Times


With ever-growing interest in Tandy Hills from across the Metroplex, our aim to inspire everyone to comply with our simple rules. Tandy Hills Prairie Police are on duty and pledged to serve and protect your right to enjoy trample-free wildflower meadows.


>>>> By the way, did you hear the KERA Radio report on the wildlfolwer season in north Texas? It was an April 16 interview with, Tiana Rehman, of Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT). She was asked where best to view wildflowers and specified only one place:


"One of my favorite places to go at this time of year is Tandy Hills Natural Area which is just east of downtown. It's a prairie remnant and has a really amazing showing, a lot of other native flowers, not what you'd see on the highway but a real profusion of other native species in there and a prairie remnant that's actually being preserved."



07) Burn Area Update


Back in early December, 2018, a series of unprescribed fires were set at Tandy Hills. Below, are pics of the same area from before, right after the fires and last week. The fires left the ground virtually barren where mostly grasses grew before but, the prairie is coming back nicely.


December, 2012


December, 2018


April, 2019


08) PrairieSky / StarParty News 


Fort Worth Astronomical Society rep, Pam Kloepfer, has this to say about the upcoming star party:


"The Big Dipper is front and center in the sky in May. It is a large familiar asterism that is part of the constellation Ursa Major, or The Great Bear. The two stars at the front of the dipper are Pointer stars, and point to Polaris, the North Star. In the bend of the handle, are the famous double stars Mizor and Alcor. If you look patiently, you can see them naked-eye! Mizar itself is a double star, but you will need a telescope to separate them. The Big Dipper contains wonderful galaxies that can be seen with a telescope from a dark location. The moon will be at First Quarter on May 11, perfect for observing craters, mountains, and plateaus."




09) Yoga On the Prairie Is Back


Where on Earth can you get in a yoga class and do a little star-gazing at the same time and place? The answer is Tandy Hills Natural Area. Starting in May, New Leaf Yoga will begin offering yoga classes during the Prairie Sky Star party. Proprietors, Katie and Chelsea, sent the following note:


“We want to offer you a chance to roll out your mat, stretch, breathe and connect with nature and the stars around you. It will be a gentle evening flow leaving you ready to see the night sky a little differently. This is an all levels class. There is no cost but donations are accepted. Everyone is welcome including, kids. Bring a mat and water. Class starts at 6:30 P.M. Check out our Facebook page HERE:


Katie & Chelsea of New Leaf Yoga


10) Purple Paintbrush Majesty


There are at least two species of Castilleja growing at Tandy Hills. Texas Paintbrush (Castilleja texana) is present in small quantities. The most common by far and one of the signature species here is, Castilleja purpurea or, Purple Indian Paintbrush. Both come in a variety of shades including, pure white. Inspired by a Facebook post by Master Naturalist, Jeff Quayle, I've collected my photos from Tandy Hills over the years showing these color variations.













11) Prairie Proverb 


"The natural world is not just a nice place to have, it fundamentally matters to each and every one of us."



Sir David Attenborough, from his stirring speech at the London premiere of the 2019, nature docu-series, Our Planet


Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.