October 2022 Nebraskaland

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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Page 48 of 49

October 2022 • Nebraskaland 49 "Steve will be so happy," added Steffl. During their visit, they found about a dozen clematis plants. On their drive out, they ran into the rancher and told him of their botanical discovery. "Oh, that plant? It's all over the ranch," he responded. Apparently, hairy clematis is doing well on the site. Photos Falling Into My Lap A few days later, Steffl emailed me the story of their discovery. The following Sunday, while enjoying our morning coffee in my mother-in-law's South Dakota farmhouse, I relayed the story to my wife, Grace, who is also a botanist. "This would make a nice little Nebraskaland article … if I only had a photo of hairy clematis to go along with the story. But it's too far a drive for a single photo," I concluded. Grace then gave me one of her looks and said, "Well, I was just outside and it's blooming in Mom's flower garden." "What?" I said. I grabbed my camera, ran outside and photographed three flowering plants. Back in the house, Grace explained that in early 2000s, while doing plant surveys in the Black Hills, she fell in love with the beautiful wildflower and subsequently planted seeds of the commercially available species in the garden. During the intervening years, I surely saw it blooming there, but having never before encountered the plant in the wild — I assumed it was an exotic ornamental and ignored it. As a botanist, I am a purist interested only in native plants. A few weeks later, it was déjà vu all over again. We were back at the farm drinking our morning coffee when Grace said, "I was just outside and last night's rain made the clematis seed heads spread to their full glory." "You're kidding me," I responded, again heading outside with my camera. Such is luck. N Gerry Steinauer is a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission botanist who has been contributing to Nebraskaland Magazine since 1990. Hairy clematis fl owering in the author's mother-in-law's garden.

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