Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Snow Angel?

When I got home from work on Friday, it was dark out, but I noticed a snow angel in our yard. I went out today to take a photo...

Any thoughts? There are no tracks leading to it. My guess was a Cooper's Hawk, but if that's what it is, it must not have hit its target.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

October in Nashville

As most of you know, I was in Nashville, Tennessee in October for the Natural Areas Association annual conference. I showed a few photos from my conference field trip at Botany Slide Show, but I thought you might like to see some of the photos that I didn't show.

Nashville is located in what is known as the Central Basin of Tennessee. While this natural region is now at a lower elevation than the surrounding Highland Rim, before being eroded it was at a higher elevation in the form of a dome. Caves and sinkholes are very common throughout the area.

We first visited a limestone barren. I expected something similar to the dolomite glades of Missouri, but this community was very different. I now understand why these areas are sometimes called "pavement."

One of the plants I was hoping to see on the limestone barrens was the Federally Endangered Dalea foliosa. I've seen this prairie clover on dolomite prairies near Chicago, so I wanted to compare the habitat and associate species. Unfortunately, our guides had not located any Dalea foliosa this year in the places it had been seen in past years. They thought it might have been due to weather conditions. When they showed us the place it had been seen in past years, I was surprised at how shrubby it was. I'm wondering if this rarity hasn't been shaded out at the site we visited.

While we didn't find Dalea foliosa, we did see Dalea gattingeri (but it wasn't flowering). While this species is not Federally or State listed, it is restricted to the limestone barrens of the southeastern US.

Also on the limestone barrens, Theo Witsell and I came across the tiny Scutellaria parvula.... not rare, but often overlooked because of its size.

After the limestone barrens, we visited a couple of cedar glades. As seen in the photo below, the cedar glades have the obvious presence of more grasses and Juniperus virginiana. It's hard to believe, but these communities have apparently not been fire-maintained.

One of the plants we saw in the cedar glades was Grindelia lanceolata. The genus is named for the Latvian botanist David Hieronymus Grindel (how about that for a middle name, Dana and Justin??). This isn't an uncommon plant, but it was one I'd never seen. I'm surprised to see that it's known from Wisconsin, as it seems to have more of a southern distribution overall. It would be interesting to compare the few remaining cedar glades in Wisconsin to those in the southeastern US.

Along a roadside near a cedar glade we saw the State Threatened Silphium pinnatifidum, or S. terebinthinaceum v. pinnatifidum. I'd only read about this gem in the past. It grows in cedar glades in scattered counties within Tennessee (and in a band from Wisconsin to Georgia).

If you've actually read this far, you're in luck. The next two species that we saw in the cedar glades are rare in Tennessee, and one of the two is endangered in the US.

Astragalus tennesseensis is listed as Special Concern in Tennessee, but it's only known from a handful of counties in the state on cedar glades and limestone barrens. Unfortunately, it flowers in the spring, so we were only able to find the remains of some fruit.

Lastly, Echinacea tennesseensis, Federally Endangered; the first species from Tennessee ever to be designated as Federally Endangered. This species is only known from three counties within one watershed in the Central Basin of Tennessee, even though plenty of appropriate habitat is present in other watersheds nearby. Where it is present, it is abundant. At the first cedar glade, we only found it in fruit.

Rain had started to fall pretty steadily by the time we arrived at the next cedar glade. I decided I would leave my camera in the bus, as I assumed we wouldn't find anything else exciting in flower. After a 1/2 mile walk, we arrived in an opening full of Echinacea tennesseensis, and several were still in flower. I took a few photos with my cell phone, but decided it was worth a jog back to the bus in the rain to get my camera. Well worth the exercise...

Snowy Update

Well, it's winter here in northern Indiana. We were handed between 8 inches and a foot of snow on Thursday and Friday. It's beautiful, but not too good for botanizing.

Today, I went to the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society annual conference in Indianapolis. Among the speakers were Mike Homoya, Doug Tallamy, Steve Yaninek, and Jim McCormac. All were excellent and very inspiring (have you ever heard anyone compare a Cooper's Hawk to a combination of Wayne Gretzky, Mike Tyson, and Genghis Kahn???), leading to a better conference than I expected. This was the second time I'd seen Dr. Tallamy speak, and the first time I'd seen the others. If you ever have the chance to hear any of them, I hope you don't miss out. In addition to these folks, it was nice to rub shoulders with the likes of Kay Yatskievych, Paul Rothrock, Lee Casebere, Kevin Tungesvick, Steve Dunbar, Cathey Meyer, and others.

Here are a couple of interesting websites that I obtained at the conference...

After you look at this second webpage, let me know when you're ready to schedule a January trip to central Mexico with Lindsay and me to see the wintering Monarchs.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Denizen of the Dry Country

The rare and spectacular Baptisia leucophaea is hard to find in Indiana, but in sparsely wooded sandy fields at the South Bend Motor Speedway it grows by the hundreds, putting on a spectacular display in spring. There is talk of the area being subdivided for housing, and it will probably happen when the economy improves. Note the surveyor’s stake in the background. Long live Cream Wild Indigo, and long live Earth’s ever-shrinking natural areas!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Composite Quotes

Here are the quotes that Karen and I read to accompany the composite slide show.

Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Sister Yarrow, Knight’s Milfoil,
grown near battlegrounds,
harvested by squires before sword-clang.
Soldier’s Woundwort
clotted blood through Britain,
staunched the flow on Russian steppes,
saved riders of the Golden Horde,
sanguinary poultice,
love charm, astringent tea.
-John Caddy,

Antennaria parlinii (Parlin’s pussytoes)
The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.
-Gertrude S. Wister

Aster ericoides (heath aster)
Chide me not, laborious band!
For the idle flowers I brought;
Every aster in my hand
Goes home loaded with a thought.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Apology

Aster lateriflorus (side-flowering aster)
The Autumn wood the aster knows,
The empty nest, the wind that grieves,
The sunlight breaking thro' the shade,
The squirrel chattering overhead,
The timid rabbits lighter tread
Among the rustling leaves.
- Dora Read Goodale, Asters

Aster novae-angliae (New England aster)
The purple asters bloom in crowds
In every shady nook,
And ladies’ eardrops deck the banks
Of many a babbling brook.
-Elaine Goodale, Autumn

Aster shortii (Short’s aster)
The aster greets us as we pass
With her faint smile.
- Mrs. Sarah Helen Power Whitman, A Day of the Indian Summer

Aster umbellatus (flat-top aster)
One dark and stormy night in 1994 I was awakened from a deep sleep by a loud thump. Creeping carefully down the stairs, I discovered to my astonishment that a large bouquet of Aster on the dining table had disappeared! In its place was a cornucopia of composites, including Symphyotrichum, Ionactis, Eurybia, Sericocarpus, Doellingeria, Ampelaster, and Oclemena! Once again, a plant taxonomist had struck in dark of night, taken a simple two-syllable genus with the same English common name, and replaced it with a handful of four- and five-syllable Latin tongue-twisters. Whatever can we do about such things?
-Alan Weakly, The Curious Case of the Disappearing Asters

Cacalia plantaginea (prairie Indian plantain)
For myself I hold no preferences among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous. Bricks to all greenhouses! Black thumb and cutworm to the potted plant!
-Edward Abbey

Carduus nutans (musk thistle)
When on the breath of Autumn's breeze,
From pastures day and brown,
Goes floating, like an idle thought,
The fair, white thistle-down;
O, then what joy to walk at will,
Upon the golden harvest-hill!
- Mary Howitt, Corn-Fields

Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed)
What is a weed? I have heard it said that there are sixty definitions. For me, a weed is a plant out of place.
-Donald Culross Peattie

Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy)
All summer she scattered the daisy leaves;
They only mocked her as they fell.
She said: "The daisy but deceives;
'He loves me not,' 'he loves me will,'
One story no two daisies tell."
Ah foolish heart, which waits and grieves
Under the daisy's mocking spell.
- Helen Hunt Jackson (Helen Hunt), The Sign of the Daisy

Cichorium intybus (chicory)
It has made its way, on wind,
far into the city, and it nods there,
on streetcorners, in what July wind
its slips garner. Since childhood
I have loved it, it is so violet-blue,
its root, its marrow, so interred,
prepared to suffer, impossible to move.
Weed, wildflower, grown waist-high
where it is no one’s responsibility
to mow, its blue-white
center frankly open
as an eye, it flaunts
its tender, living lingerie,
the purple hairs of its interior.
Women are weeds and weeds are women,
I once heard a woman say.
Bloom where you are planted, said my mother.
-Catherine Rankovic, Blue Chicory

Coreopsis lanceolata (sand coreopsis)
The mockingbird says, Hallelujah, coreopsis, I make the day bright, I wake the night-booming jasmine.
-Barbara Hamby, from Thus Spake the Mockingbird

Coreopsis tripteris (tall coreopsis)
With zealous step he climbs the upland lawn,
And bows in homage to the rising dawn;
Imbibes with eagle eye the golden ray,
And watches, as it moves, the orb of day.
- Erasmus Darwin, Loves of the Plants

Echinacea pallida (purple coneflower)
Flowers construct the most charming geometries: circles like the sun,
ovals, cones, curlicues and a variety of triangular eccentricities, which
when viewed with the eye of a magnifying glass seem a Lilliputian
frieze of psychedelic silhouettes.
- Duane Michals, The Vanishing Act

Erigeron philadelphicus (marsh fleabane)
There is a flower, a little flower
With silver crest and golden eye,
That welcomes every changing hour,
And weathers every sky.
- James Montgomery, A Field Flower

Eupatorium maculatum (spotted Joe Pye weed)
The joe-pye weeds will stand as sentinels
Their lavender riches offered to the sky.
The prairie grasses, gardens of the desert,
Will move in a rhythm to match our own.
-Kathy Stevenson, from Prairie Reverie

Helenium autumnale (sneezeweed)
Radiant color
In amber fields of plenty
Celebrate summer
-Karla Dorman, Sunflower Fields

Helianthus divaricatus (woodland sunflower)
Light-enchanted sunflower, thou
Who gazest ever true and tender
On the sun's revolving splendour.
- Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Magico Prodigioso (sc. 3), (Shelley's translation)

Helianthus giganteus (tall sunflower)
And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood.
- William Cullen Bryant

Helianthus occidentalis (western sunflower)
You're expected to see
only the top, where sky
scrambles bloom, and not
the spindly leg, hairy, fending off
tall, green darkness beneath.
Like every flower, she has a little
theory, and what she thinks
is up. I imagine the long
climb out of the dark
beyond morning glories, day lilies, four o'clocks
up there to the dream she keeps
lifting, where it's noon all day.
-Frank Steele, Sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides (false sunflower)
The Sunflow'r, thinking 'twas for him foul shame
To nap by daylight, strove t' excuse the blame;
It was not sleep that made him nod, he said,
But too great weight and largeness of his head.
- Abraham Cowley, Of Plants

Krigia biflora (false dandelion)
Little girls, and boys come out to play
Bring your dandelions to blow away
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion, blow away dandelion
-The Rolling Stones, Dandelion

Liatris spicata (marsh blazing star), Liatris aspera (rough blazing star)
One by one the prairie species come,
Fill every niche of time and light.
Their names spill into poems on the tongue,
Liatris, aster, needlegrass. We watch
The wash of Renoir's colors through
The bluestem grass, the herons sweeping
Home. In evening light the junipers
Could almost be bison, gently grazing.
-Robin Chapman, Prairie Restoration

Parthenium integrifolium (wild quinine)
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
-William Blake, Auguries of Innocence (excerpt)

Prenanthes racemosa (glaucous white lettuce)
'Tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes!
- William Wordsworth, "Lines Written in Early Spring," Lyrical Ballads, 1798

Ratibida pinnata (yellow coneflower)
Eagle of flowers! I see thee stand,
And on the sun's noon-glory gaze;
With eye like his, thy lids expand,
And fringe their disk with golden rays:
Though fix'd on earth, in darkness rooted there,
Light is thy element, thy dwelling air,
Thy prospect heaven.- James Montgomery, The Sunflower

Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan)
All in the Downs the fleet was moor’d,
The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came aboard;
‘O! where shall I my true-love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true
If my sweet William sails among the crew.’
-John Gay, Black-eyed Susan (excerpt)

Rudbeckia laciniata (wild golden glow)
O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear,
We only part to meet again.
Change, as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.
-John Gay, Sweet William’s Farewell to Black-eyed Susan (excerpt)

Senecio obovatus (round-leaved ragwort)
Ragwort thou humble flower with tattered leaves
I love to see thee come and litter gold
- John Clare c.1835, The Ragwort

Silphium integrifolium (rosin weed), Silphium laciniatum (compass plant)
Look at this vigorous plant that lifts its head from the meadow,
See how its leaves are turned to the north, as true as the magnet;
This is the compass-flower, that the finger of God has planted
Here in the houseless wild, to direct the traveller's journey.
Over the sea-like, pathless, limitless waste of the desert,
Such in the soul of man is faith.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline

Silphium terebinthinaceum (prairie dock)
I see you there in glory shining bright,
Following the sun and its path of light.
Standing tall above all others in the field,
You grow, conquer, and do not yield.
- Katherine R. Lane, Poem to a Sunflower (excerpt)

Solidago juncea (early goldenrod)
Welcome, dear Goldenrod, once more,
Thou mimic, flowering elm!
I always think that Summer's store
Hangs from thy laden stem.
- Horace Elisha Scudder, To the Goldenrod at Midsummer

Solidago ptarmicoides (stiff aster)
I am half dead with Aster. I got on very fairly until I got to the thick of the genus, around what I call the Dumosi and Salicifolia. Here I work and work, but make no headway at all. I can't tell what are species and how to define any of them ..... I was never so boggled ..... If you hear of my breaking down utterly, and being sent to an asylum, you may lay it to Aster, which is a slow and fatal poison."
- Asa Gray, late in his life

Solidago rigida (stiff goldenrod)
And in the evening, everywhere
Along the roadside, up and down,
I see the golden torches flare
Like lighted street-lamps in the town.
- Frank Dempster Sherman, Golden-Rod

Solidago uliginosa (bog goldenrod)
Nature lies disheveled, pale,
With her feverish lips apart,--
Day by day the pulses fail,
Nearer to her bounding heart;
Yet that slackened grasp doth hold
Store of pure and genuine gold;
Quick thou comest, strong and free,
Type of all the wealth to be,--
- Elaine Goodale (Mrs. Charles A. Eastman), Goldenrod

Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Upon a showery night and still,
Without a sound of warning,
A trooper band surprised the hill,
And held it in the morning.
We were not waked by bugle notes,
No cheer our dreams invaded,
And yet at dawn, their yellow coats
On the green slopes paraded.
- Helen Gray Cone, The Dandelions

Tragopogon dubius (sand goat’s beard)
Then did we question of the down-balls, blowing
To know if some slight wish would come to pass
-Quoted by Ann Pratt, Wild Flowers (1857)