Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tony and I spent a good part of the day botanizing grassed swales in northwest Indiana (not too exciting), so I decided to post a few photos of this gorgeous Rosaceous plant, which is growing in my home landscaping. Geum triflorum isn't found naturally in Indiana, but it is known from prairies in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan (threatened), as well from much of Canada and the western United States. The only place I have ever seen this plant growing naturally was on a remnant hill prairie in Wisconsin. I'm typically a purist when it comes to native landscaping, but this is just a cool plant.
As you can see in the close-up, the "smoke" or "old man's whiskers" are actually mature, plumose styles visible when the plant is in fruit. (As a side note, nature is full of plumose, or feathery, structures... to see another click here.) These feathery styles are important for seed dispersal in this species. The nodding flowers aren't very showy, as they consist of 3/4" pinkish sepals surrounding white or light pink petals that never seem fully open.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
As we drove along, we noticed that the low ridges appeared to be ablaze... a sure sign that the Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) was in bloom.
Moving closer, we could almost feel the warmth of this flaming gem. We just had to take a quick break from work to take some photos. It is a scene like this that gives me a sense of what the great Hoosier botanist Charlie Deam must have felt when he was taken to the prairies at 17th and Whitcomb Streets in Gary for the first time by the great Chicago Region botanist Floyd Swink in the late 1940s. "When he was shown the Indian Paintbrush stretching for blocks into the distance, he said: 'I have collected in every township in the state of Indiana; I am now in my eighties; this is the finest Indiana natural area I have ever seen in my life.'" (Swink and Wilhelm 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region.)
As you probably know, the "paintbrush," which can range from white (in forma alba) to yellow (in forma lutescens) to scarlet red (in forma coccinea) is actually a series of brightly colored, lobed bracts. The flower is the yellowish-green structure above each bract. If you look closely, you'll see two broad, rounded calyx lobes (sometimes with colored tips), a protruding bilabiate corolla with a galeate upper lip, and an exserted style/stigma.
While most of the bracts on the plants that we saw were orange in color, a few scattered plants had scarlet-colored bracts.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
A similar, smaller species, Botrychium simplex, occurs rarely in the Dunes region. It differs in having the blade pinnatifid (that of B. matricariifolium is bipinnatifid, approaching pinnate-pinnatifid),and its blade lacks the prominent, wide midrib that B. matricariifolium has. Also, its sporophyll is not as noticeably branched (branches are short to obsolete).
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Trillium catesbaei, a true Trillium (in the subgenus Trillium), was to me the most graceful Trillium of the trip. We found it growing in moist acidic woods, as well as in the grassy, somewhat shrubby area near our campsite at DeSoto State Park in Alabama. As the name implies, this trillium was named in honor of English naturalist Mark Catesby. This is one of the trillies with a pedicel that nods, leading to flowers held below the bracts. According to Case and Case, there is a form of this species that grows in South Carolina with an erect pedicel. The stigmas, unlike those of the somewhat similar Trillium cernuum and Trillium flexipes, are uniformly thin throughout, although they are connected basally into a short style. The petals are curved backwards and range in color from white to pink.
Trillium cuneatum is an extremely variable species, with petal color ranging from maroon to purple to brown to green to yellow, and to all colors in between. Petals are sometimes even bicolored. We saw most of these color variants at Old Stone Fort State Park in Tennessee and at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia. The specific epithet comes from the shape of the petals, which are wedge-shaped at the base and broad above. This trillium was observed in upland woods; it is known to occur in both sandstone- and limestone-based soils. Unlike the species above and below, the flowers of Trillium cuneatum are sessile. This is one big trillie, growing to up to 45 cm tall, with petals sometimes longer than 6 cm. The stigmas of this species are separate to the base, putting it in the subgenus Phyllantherum. Unlike Trillium recurvatum, the sepals are horizontally spreading to erect. Trillium cuneatum may be confused with Trillium sessile, but the anther dehiscense is latrorse in the former and introrse in the latter. Finally, the connectives of the stamens of Trillium cuneatum are barely prolonged beyond the anthers, and the leaves come to an abrupt point.
Trillium sulcatum was the least common of the three trilliums that we observed. We found it only in a couple of spots in acidic, mesic forest at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia, where it is at the edge of its range. Like Trillium catesbaei, Trillium sulcatum is in the subgenus Trillium; however, the flowers are on pedicels held above the bracts. The specific epithet comes from the boat-shaped tips of the sepals. The stigmas are thickened basally, and the ovaries are large and six-angled. Trillium sulcatum has petals that are wider than the sepals, and leaves that are very wide. This species is similar to Trillium erectum, and has been treated as a variety of T. erectum by some authors; however, according to Case and Case, Trillium sulcatum generally is taller, larger-leaved, and more robust than Trillium erectum. Also, the flowers of Trillium sulcatum face outward at a 90 degree angle from the erect pedicel, a feature not seen in Trillium erectum.
A few additional photos of these trilliums can be found here.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Yesterday I visited a nearby forest (about 3/10 mile away) and found the plant abundant there, as well. It turns out that both species are extremely uncommon the world over.