They put a bright spot of color in the woods in spring - bright orange on the clay slope, red-gold among the limestone pebbles, orange-yellow on the cliff; the puccoon is in bloom. Now in May when in the woods paler colors predominate and the stronger colors of late summer have not yet made their appearance, puccoon flowers set a blaze of pure pigment on the hillslope.
Lithospermum angustifolium Michx.
April - May Sunny hills, prairies.
The puccoons inhabit prairies or woods. The hoary puccoon (Lithospermum canescens) is found with wild hyacinth in the prairie soil remaining along railroads or highways. The plants grow from an exceedingly long, straight taproot which goes deeply into the ground. Just below the surface the individual stems form and stand erect as a, plant of a dozen or more stalks all topped with clusters of bright yellow-orange flowers. They are tubular and spread in five parts to glitter in the sunlight.
On the gravelly hill and the dry ridges there blossoms now the narrow-leaved puccoon which perhaps is the most beautiful of all the family. The flowers are crinkled and frilled like some ornamental little petunia. They are pale yellow and are produced in clusters at the summit of the short stem. The throat of the flower is crested so that few insects except those with long tongues may penetrate to the nectar. Narrow-leaved puccoon is a prairie plant which is found over most of the broad, sunswept, wind-cleaned land from Ontario to Indiana. Illinois, Kansas, and Texas, as well as westward into British Columbia, U'tah. and Arizona. Landscapes much different from that of Illinois - dry buttes, broad prairies where the lark buntings nest, the northern camass country, the paint lands of the west - all know the bright little yellow blossoms of the puccoon.