Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lonicera canadensis, Canadian Fly Honeysuckle

At the dedication of Ambler Flatwoods Nature Preserve in 2006, I was invited to speak briefly about the plant study conducted there. In trying to illustrate that there was more to be found, I said, “The legendary Charles Deam found Lonicera canadensis (Canadian Fly Honeysuckle) only once, and it was very close to this site. That plant is still extant only a few miles from here in Michigan - just across the state line. I believe it will be found again in Indiana, and I’m quite sure it will be in this vicinity.”

Imagine my delight when Scott Namestnik found several colonies last year, only a mile east of Ambler Flatwoods , and about two miles north of the place where Deam found it in 1911. This little native shrub had not been seen in Indiana since 1923. This amazing discovery is one for the record books! Nice work, Scott!

Lonicera canadensis, Canadian Fly Honeysuckle.
Photographed in Michigan.

Corydalis flavula, Pale Corydalis

This neat little plant in the Fumariaceae is abundant in the riparian forests that follow the Yellow River through Starke County, Indiana. Elsewhere, it shows up only occasionally, often in degraded woods.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Trailing Arbutus and other nice things

Last weekend I went hill climbing in search of Epigaea repens and found it upon the Earth lying down, just like the name says. The fragrance of its flowers is spicy and sweet, and rather attractive to little black bees! I was also fortunate to get acceptable pictures of Dicentra canadensis, Trillium recurvatum, and Coptis trifolia, among others. Life is good for a botanist in April!

Epigaea repens, Trailing Arbutus
Dicentra canadensis, Squirrel Corn

Trillium recurvatum, Red Trillium

Coptis trifolia, Goldthread

Viola palmata

I have heard that this violet really is not separate from the regular common violet, even so, it is still fun to see. This was growing on the rocky, open hillside at Nicholson Preserve, Wayne County, IN.

Cardamine bulbosa

Saturday I had the chance to visit some fens in Wayne County, IN at Nicholson Preserve with Dr. Ruch and Dr. Torke from Ball State. Spring really isn't the most impressive time for fens, but it is still fun to see. Carex stricta and Caltha palustris were blooming, in addition to the Cardamine bulbosa. The Filipendula rubra is coming up and should put on a good show.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Luzula acuminata (Hairy Wood Rush)

Another good Warren Woods plant is Luzula acuminata in the Juncaceae. It is often found near the summit of steep ravine slopes, and is far less common than L. multiflora.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Carex plantaginea (Plantain-Leaved Sedge)

The other day I woke up with an acre in my side, so I went to see the famous Dr. Warren Woods in Michigan for a Hepatica treatment. I emerged feeling refreshed and invigorated, and even my mood was improved. While there I took several shots - none were painful, and the best was this shot of Carex plantaginea flowering on a steep hillside. Unfortunately, the sky in the background overexposed, but it's a new style of picture that I may attempt again. Plants with apetalous flowers are beautiful too... and important!

"I think I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least - and it is commonly more than that - sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements." Henry David Thoreau

Monday, April 20, 2009

Native Landscaping - If Everyone Did This, How Cool The Earth Would Be (Literally!)

Happy Earth Day one day early! I live in town but my yard doesn't look like suburbia so much. All landscaping materials were scavenged, and all of the hardwood trees and shrubs have been grown from seeds or cuttings. Evergreens were bought for less than a dollar apiece (about a foot tall) from St. Joseph County Soil and Water Conservation District, and they came from the state nursery at Jasper-Pulaski. I have a sweet rain garden but can't find the pics I took last year when it was flowering. All of the plants were grown from seeds and root cuttings, and some came from Scott's old house (when he wasn't looking). None came from parks and preserves, of course. The lawn and garden have been chemical free for the 16 years we've been here. I'm now working to eliminate treated lumber. That stuff is horribly poisonous. A brick runnel made from scavenged paving bricks carries rain water from the downspout to the rain garden, and now I'm setting up a rain barrel. Here's a picture of the brick runnel with the rain garden barely visible in the background. Also before and after pics of the house and environs.

I wanted to live in the woods but my wife wanted to live in town, so we comprimised. We bought a house in town and I planted a lot of trees!

Vicia caroliniana

This was a new flower for me to learn this weekend. It was growing on drier hillsides at the Red River Gorge, KY.

Dodecatheon meadia

Photo Quiz Answer showing the old flower stalkScott and Keith both got the answer. Habitat was a little funny. The site was in east central Indiana (Henry County) on a hillside that had a fen at the base. The Shooting Star was growing all the way from the top of the hill to the edge of the fen. The flowers were budding last Wednesday (4/15), so they may be blooming by now. Shooting Star grows at Cabin Creek Bog (fen) in nearby Randolph County, so I guess it doesn't always have to be dry.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Scott's edition of "Good Stuff from Saturday"

Like Keith, I was lucky enough to have time to get out and enjoy the weather on Saturday. I will be longing for the warm temperatures and clear skies of this past Saturday early this week, as snow is again in the forecast for this Tuesday!

Next weekend, I am leading a hike for Shirley Heinze Land Trust members at Bendix Woods County Park in St. Joseph County, Indiana. On Saturday, I walked the trail at Bendix Woods to see what would be flowering next weekend for my hike. Based on what I saw, participants should be in for a real treat.
The forest floor was already alive this past weekend. Most of the white specs in the photo above are Enemion biternatum (Rananculaceae), shown below. Ben already discussed the differences between this species and Thalictrum thalictroides in his post here. Another difference between the two is that Enemion biternatum has conspicuous white, papery stipules.
The other contributor to the snowy-spotted landscape is Trillium grandiflorum (Liliaceae), the state wildflower of Ohio. This charismatic species, shown below, had just begun to flower. It should be at its peak next weekend at Bendix Woods. Seeds of T. grandiflorum possess elaiosomes, which are fleshy, fatty structures. Ants are attracted to the elaiosomes. When ants harvest seeds from different colonies of T. grandiflorum, they are helping to increase the genetic diversity of the future colony that will germinate at the location of their nest.
Both Dicentra canadensis (below) and D. cucullaria (below that) (Fumariaceae) were in flower, though I saw many fewer flowering individuals of D. canadensis. I noticed a lot of bumblebees in the vicinity of these two species, and as it turns out, bumblebees are thought to be the only pollinator of the two species.
Like Trillium grandiflorum, the seeds of Dicentra canadensis and D. cucullaria possess elaiosomes and are spread by ants.
One of my favorite spring wildflowers has to be Floerkea proserpinacoides (Limnanthaceae), pictured below. Why? Probably because most people don't even notice it, and because the flowers, although just a few millimeters across, are rather interesting. Small bees and flower flies are known to pollinate false mermaid, as it is known, and both insects were in abundance at Bendix Woods yesterday.
The maroon flowers of Asarum canadense (Aristolochiaceae), shown below, are low to the ground, where they are pollinated by ants. This has to be one of my favorite ephemerals. Oh... wait... I just said that about the previous species! It really is difficult to pick favorites, but who doesn't love a plant that has roots that can be used to make candy? I made candy from the roots of this and true ginger (Zingiber officinale) in college. While some pieces were too strong, others tasted very good.
Several other species were in flower, but I'll save those for the people who come on my hike next week!
After visiting Bendix Woods, I swung by Sebert County Park in LaPorte County, Indiana. Not much was flowering at this site, but one gem that was in bloom was Viola conspersa (Violaceae). This is one of our blue-flowered violets that has stems with leaves (as opposed to leaves all basal, as in V. sororia). You will also notice that the lateral petals are heavily bearded, and that the spur is long, but shorter than the ridiculous spur of V. rostrata.
Violets are a fun and diverse group. Yesterday alone, I saw Viola blanda, V. canadensis, V. conspersa, V. odorata, V. pubescens, V. rostrata, and V. sororia in flower.

Further south, you may already be seeing climax wildflower dispays, but I think we are about one week away here in northern Indiana. Even if you are busy, make time to get out next weekend to see these exhibits for yourself.

Indiana Dunes BioBlitz - Will You Be There?

The National Geographic/National Park Service 24-hour BioBlitz at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will be held on May 15-16, 2009. Public registration for this event is now open. I am leading botany/birding groups from 1PM-4PM Friday, 4:30PM-8PM Friday, and 8AM-12PM Saturday. Karen Quinlan is also leading botany groups at these times. If you are available, you should really try to make it to this huge event. There are limits on the number of people that can join each field team, and joining a team is handled on a first come, first served basis, so reserve your spots early. Visit the official Indiana Dunes BioBlitz website for more details and to sign up for the event. I hope to see you there!

Chamaesyce polygonifolia, August 12, 2006

Good Stuff From Saturday

Unlike most snakes that I encounter while botanizing, this Northern Water Snake did not chase me down and start biting. Its calm demeanor was much appreciated! (maybe it was just too cold). It was sunning itself in Hobart, Indiana on the north edge of Lake George.

Erythronium americanum, Trout Lily,
at Warren Woods State Park, Berrien County, MI.

Hepatica acutiloba, Sharp-Lobed Hepatica at Warren Woods State Park, Berrien County, MI.

Caltha palustris, Cowslip, Marsh Marigold

Indiana Dunes State Park, Porter County, IN.

Chrysosplenium americanum, Golden Saxifrage,

Indiana Dunes State Park, Porter County, IN.
For a student of the flora, it's hard to imagine anything nicer than a 70-degree Saturday in April spent in the woods!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photo Quiz

This time of year can be challenging for me, as people bring in a grass seedling or a basal rosette and ask me for an ID. This plant looked familiar, though. Then I found an old flower stalk. Should be easy, although photographs never capture the exact color and color texture.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tiny Bumbershoots (Podophyllum peltatum)

What's not to love about a forest floor with little umbrellas here and there? It brings to mind mushrooms dancing to the sound of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" in the classic, "Fantasia." Good stuff!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Recent Photos - Just For Fun

Ever wonder why you wallow around in natural areas trying to get nice photos of some plant that's just about impossible to photograph? Well it's just who you are, and it's just what you do. At such times I am always, always reminded of these thoughts by Robert James Waller: "Existence takes on meaning only when you give it meaning – by making it meaningful. And how do you make it meaningful? By listening to those almost-secret voices within you that, at certain critical times, whisper, “This is me.” In those moments, it’s important to consciously note what you are doing and do more of it – a lifetime of it, in fact."
Hepatica acutiloba - Sharp-Lobed Hepatica

Dentaria laciniata - Toothwort

Claytonia virginica - Spring Beauty

Cardamine douglassii - Spring Cress

Phlox bifida - Cleft Phlox, Sand Phlox

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!
(Emily Dickinson)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mind Trick

I sometimes feel like someone pulled a Jedi mind trick on me when I first started learning wildflowers. They told me that Rue Anemone and False Rue Anemone are confusing. (If only they had confidently told me that I would easily keep them straight in my head...) Since then, they have been confused in my mind, despite the easy differences. However different the plants are, keeping the names separate is another matter. This post is more for me, than for the expert botanists.

Thalictrum thalictroides (Rue Anemone) used to be called Anemonella thalictroides.
Enemion biternatum (False Rue Anemone) used to be called Isopyrum biternatum

Rue Anemone has more petaloid sepals, grows in more upland habitats, and has opposite leaves.

False Rue Anemone has four to five petaloid sepals, grows in low woods and moist soils, and has alternate leaves.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cute as a Button

While my nieces were searching for the Easter eggs I hid around our yard this afternoon, I noticed that the diminutive white flowers of Draba verna were open. Although I was mostly taking photos of the egg hunt, I couldn't resist taking a photo of this cute little mustard.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Weeds or natives, they're all stunning this time of year!

I've been itching to get out and botanize lately, but I have just been too busy. Saturday was too beautiful to be anywhere but outside, so I made sure that we walked a trail after taking our nieces to an Easter egg hunt held at Potato Creek State Park in St. Joseph County, Indiana. There wasn't very much in flower yet, but all of the signs that we saw showed that we aren't very far away.

Have you ever looked closely at Glechoma hederacea? I'm not sure that I had, until today. This putrid, creeping weed was introduced for ornamental and medicinal purposes in the 1800s. The flowers certainly are pretty, but I can see it being more sought after as an ornamental if the flowers were two or three times the size that they are.

Cardamine hirsuta is one of those weeds that you see so often early in the year that you begin to not even notice it anymore. It flowers and goes to fruit very early in the year, and in May you can hear the seeds exploding from the siliques as you walk through a field where it is present. This mustard truly does have cute little flowers, even though it is introduced.

Another mustard, Cardamine concatenata is native to mesic upland forests, bottomland woods, and rocky bluffs in the eastern half of the United States. You can often find this ephemeral in large colonies in somewhat degraded situations as well as in more intact systems.

Ahh, Claytonia virginica, the genus of which was named for 18th Century botanist John Clayton, certainly is a beautiful sight in spring. Being one of the earliest blooming native plants in this part of the country, my photo library is filled with pictures of this purslane. With a range similar to the previous species, spring beauty can be found in intact woods as well as in disturbed areas such as mowed lawns. The tubers are edible (but should first be cooked), and though small, taste like potatoes.

If you're walking through the woods in April and not paying close attention to the forest floor, you may walk right past Erigenia bulbosa. The flowers of this member of the parsely family have petals up to only 4mm long. Erigenia litterally means "born in the spring," which is why this plant is commonly called "harbinger of spring." The tuber referenced by the specific epithet is supposedly edible, though I've never tried it.

Caltha palustris, one of the more gaudy of the spring wildflowers, is often found in swamps, seeps, and along creeks. It is difficult to not notice this plant in April as you drive past wet areas, as the golden glow given off by a colony of marsh marigolds grabs your attention. This buttercup is native in the northern half of North America, as well as in Eurasia. (By the way, check out that tiny insect hanging out on the petal-like sepal.)

I hope you've all had a chance to get out already this spring. As of few of you have mentioned to me, the spring is developing slowly this year, giving even the busiest of us a chance to enjoy its splendor.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

2009 Ohio Botanical Symposium - A Recap

I was up and on the road before any birds had started singing and while the frogs were still going at it on Friday morning... but with good reason. I was driving to Columbus, Ohio to attend the 2009 Ohio Botanical Symposium. By the time I arrived home at 9:00 PM, I had driven for 8 1/4 hours and spent the same amount of time at the conference, but I insist that it was well worth it, and would recommend that any of you with interest attend this event next April.

Greg Schneider led off the event by discussing the best plant finds of 2008. Some of these were species potentially new to the state:
  • Carex cherokeensis, found by Rick Gardner and Tom Arbour (a follower of this blog, by the way!)
  • Carex complanata, found by the amazing Rick Gardner
  • Celtis laevigata, found by Brian Riley
  • Juncus validus, found by Tim Walters (click here for a recent account of our own Tony Troche finding this species misidentified in the herbarium at Missouri Botanical Garden)
  • Pluchea odorata, found by Rick Gardner, Tom Arbour, and Dan Boone (and yes, he's a descendent of THE Daniel Boone)
Others were thought to be extirpated from Ohio:
  • Echinodorus berteroi, found by Dan Boone in an area that is farmed during dry years
  • Schoenoplectus saximontanus, found by Dan Boone in the same area as the previous species

Yet others were county records or endangered, threatened, or rare species:

  • Aureolaria pedicularia v. pedicularia, found by Rick Gardner and Dave Minney
  • Betula pumila, found by Rob Curtis
  • Botrychium lanceolatum
  • Calamagrostis porteri ssp. insperata, found by Rick Gardner, Tom Arbour, and others
  • Carex limosa, found in a former limestone quarry by Rick Gardner and Tom Arbour
  • Carex planispicata, found by Rick Gardner, Tom Arbour, and others
  • Coeloglossum viride, found by Eric Durbin
  • Conyza ramosissima, found by Brian Riley
  • Cornus canadensis, found by Dave Kriska
  • Crataegus uniflora, found by Rick Gardner
  • Cypripedium candidum, found by Rich McCarty
  • Eleocharis engelmannii, found by renowned naturalist and Get Your Botany On! visitor Jim McCormac
  • Geranium bicknellii, found by Gary Haase
  • Myriophyllum verticillatum, found by Tim Walters
  • Oryzopsis asperifolia, found by Jim Bissell
  • Panicum philadelphicum, found by Rick Gardner and Tom Arbour
  • Piptochaetium avenaceum, found by Rick Gardner, Tom Arbour, and others
  • Platanthera psycodes, found by Dan Boone and Eric Durbin
  • Prunus nigra, found by Brian Riley
  • Ribes missouriense
  • Salix candida, found by Rob Curtis
  • Scleria oligantha, found by Rick Gardner
  • Triadenum walteri, found by Jim McCormac, and also in another location by Jim Bissell
  • Viola nephrophylla, found by Tom Arbour
Rob Curtis also found a previously undocumented bog, within which grew rare species including Chamaedaphne calyculata, Carex oligosperma, Calla palustris, and Potentilla palustris. Two lichens, Usnea substerilis (new to Ohio) and Ramalina farinacea (discovered in Ohio for the first time in 20 years) rounded out the best finds presentation. As you can see, Ohio has a pretty active botanical consortium.
Karen Goodell spoke next about restoration and pollinators, particularly bees. There are ~3500 species of bees in North America, and ~500 of these occur in Ohio. There is a lot of variation in bee species; some are large and can travel distances over 1000 meters, while others are small and only travel up to 100 meters. Some bee species are specialists and will only visit plants from a single genus, while others are generalists. Therefore, a site with a diversity of species, diverse floral morphology, an abundance of flowers, appropriate nesting substrate, and natural habitat within the foraging range of a variety of species will yield a rich bee fauna. Karen has set up a research project in an area that was old field at The Wilds, and will be restoring prairie over time to see how the bee population responds.

Following Karen's talk was the keynote address, given by Hardy Eshbaugh, one of my botany professors from my days at Miami University. Dr. Eshbaugh's presentation dealt with the challenges to biodiversity in the 21st century, and highlighted the following obstacles that we face:
  • There is a lot that we don't know. The example that he gave dealt with our knowledge of invertebrate species, which, as he pointed out, is inadequate. We know mammal species pretty well, and we know that 20% of all mammal species are in danger. If we don't know invertebrate species well, then we have no idea how many or which ones are threatened with extinction.
  • Exotics/invasives. We all know the problems we face here.
  • Habitat preservation/restoration. Dr. Eshbaugh pointed out that we need to form partnerships to preserve large areas of land. He also discussed the use of easements for protecting land. A study in the Brazilian Amazon showed that a restored or preserved site must be at least ~250 acres, as anything smaller will lose biodiversity over time. Much of our current restoration may be missing the point.
  • Education agenda. We need to do a better job of educating the underserved population (urban, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, etc.) on our natural history. He also talked about the importance of good field guides and wildflower pilgrimages, and pointed out that wildflower pilgrimages also have important economic benefits for the towns in which they are held. Also important are botanical societies, but more important is coordination between these societies, which may currently be lacking.
  • Science. Herbaria and museums are in danger. This is obviously a very bad thing.
  • Citizen science. There are some good citizen science projects for birds, and some nationwide botanical citizen science projects (like Budburst), but the individual states need to come up with botanical citizen science programs as well.
  • Economic agenda. There is economic value to nature; we we need to better understand what that value is.
Next to speak was Jim Hickey, another of my botany professors at Miami. Dr. Hickey's talk was about the fern allies of Ohio, and was one of my favorite presentations of the day. He went through each of the groups of Lycopsids (club mosses, spike mosses, and quillworts) and the horsetails, and discussed all of the species in each group known from Ohio and how to tell them apart. Among the species discussed were: Lycopodium clavatum, Lycopodium lagopus, Dendrolycopodium obscurum, Dendrolycopodium hickeyi, Dendrolycopodium dendroideum, Diphasiastrum digitatum, Diphasiastrum tristachyum, Diphasiastrum complanatum, Huperzia lucidula, Huperzia porophila, Huperzia appalachiana, Lycopodiella inundata, Lycopodiella subappressa, Selaginella apoda, Selaginella eclipes, Selaginella rupestris, Isoetes engelmannii, Isoetes echinospora, Equisetum arvense, Equisetum fluviatile, Equisetum sylvaticum, Equisetum hyemale, Equisetum laevigatum, and Equisetum variegatum. If anyone has questions on how to tell any of these apart, let me know, and I can pass on what Dr. Hickey uses to distinguish between the species.

Next, Lenny Rhodes gave an interesting talk on woodland fungi. He showed photos of a variety of species and discussed those that were edible and those that were poisonous. This was a very interesting talk on something I know nothing about.

Finally, John Watts talked about various conservation and restoration projects going on at the metroparks in the Columbus area. The Columbus and Franklin County Metroparks are taking a very active role in preserving and restoring natural resources. The work that they are doing includes land preservation, restoration of prairie, wet prairie, savanna, and woodland, prescribed burning, hydrologic restoration, stream restoration, Wood Frog reintroduction, and Northern Riffleshell augmentation.

If you've read this far, then you obviously understand what a great conference this was, and you should strongly consider going in 2010.