Saturday, January 3, 2009

Winter Greens

A surprising number of native plants are green in winter. It would be interesting and fun to list them sometime, and maybe even do a slideshow. Here are a few I’ve seen recently:

Gaultheria procumbens, Teaberry, Wintergreen. This plant was called “Petit the des bois” (little tea of the woods) by the French fur trappers in North America. Amazingly, it’s a shrub - albeit vertically challenged! Sometimes regarded as a "subshrub."

Tipularia discolor, Crane Fly Orchid. This plant produces a single leaf in autumn and takes advantage of ample sunlight reaching the forest floor in winter. When it flowers in summer it is scapose, that is, having a “scape” (leafless flowering stem) and the scape is without chlorophyll. It is named for Tipula, a genus of Crane Fly that the flowers resemble. Some Orchids are thought to mimic the look of insects so well as to mislead the insects to attempt copulation, thereby transferring pollen. Orchid mimicry is amazing, and well worth a little browsing time on the Internet. I don’t know whether anyone has actually seen Crane Flies on this plant, but it would be fun to watch a flowering colony during the night and document what shows up. And who says freckles can't be attractive? Just look at Yasmine Bleeth!

Aplectrum hyemale, Puttyroot or Adam-and-Eve Orchid. This is another Orchid that produces a winter leaf (hyemale = of winter), but the flowering scape on this one sometimes has a little greenish cast to it. The leaf has a very strange texture, sort of crinkly like cellophane, and the veins are extremely tough, like reinforced shipping tape. One sometimes finds a leaf that’s been chewed a little and then left alone. Perhaps they are too tough to bother with or they taste bad. Both of these Orchids are common south of the Chicago Region but rare as hen's teeth around here.

Finally, a frozen pool at Ambler Flatwoods, just for fun.


Scott said...

Nice winter botany photos, Keith. Can you include a photo of hen's teeth sometime, if you ever come across them?

Leighton Photography & Imaging said...

Great blog! I'm glad I found it! I recently did a blog which included Tipularia discolor - have a look here if you get time -