Wildflowers of the Black Hills – Connie McKinney
W e l c o m e to the Black Hills, where the landscape’s wildflower displays
inspired members of the 1874 Black Hills Expedition almost 150 years ago. At that
time, expedition leader George Custer wrote in his daily journal:
“In no public or private park have I ever seen such a profuse display of
Flowers… So luxuriant in growth were they that the men plucked them
without dismounting from the saddle.”
One newspaper correspondent embedded with the expedition wrote about their
campsite along French Creek, “broken here and there by gardens of flowers — asters,
geraniums, harebells, daisies, lilies, of a beauty few excel, and dozens of exotics we
know no name for.”
This biologically unique landscape is home to roughly 1,500 plant species, according
to the Black Hills National Forest. The diversity of the local wildflowers is extraordinary
because, in part, both prairie and mountain plant species share this magnificent landscape.
Besides their inherent beauty, wildflower-rich habitats support creatures great
and small, from the tiniest insect to majestic elk herds.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
This book is intended as an easy-to-use field guide for the wildflower enthusiast with
little or no formal botanical training. Thus, technical terminology has been limited. The
wildflowers included in this guide represent some of the more commonly observed
species. A list of references is provided for those interested in “keying out” or identifying
species using in-depth, scientific sources.
For ease of locating specific flowers, this guide is arranged by color. Within each color
section, flowers are then arranged according to blooming season, with those flowering
earliest shown first. It is important to note that many flowers exhibit a wide range of
color variation. If a flower cannot be located in a particular section of this guide, look
for it in another color category.
Genus and species names reflect those listed online in the USDA Plant Database. Common
plant names vary greatly across regions. The fleld guide Plants of the Black Hills
and Bear Lodge Mountains was used as a source for common names, with additional
common names listed in each plant’s heading.