Monday, November 30, 2009

Plant Quiz - Scott is a Winner!

Good call Scott. It is Diervilla lonicera, the native Dwarf Honeysuckle. I don't think there's a shrub in North America that Scott and Justin don't know at a glance, even vegetatively!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Plant Quiz

The only clues are in the photo. Good luck!

Plant quiz - Keith nails it.

Hi all. Thanks to Justin and Scott for telling me about this awesome blog, and thanks to Ben for setting me up as a contributor. I am a plant ecologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. I get to spend my summers traipsing through the woods and training budding botanists to identify every plant they see, no matter how small or vegetative. I love it, and I'm not likely to get bored anytime soon, trying to learn all the plants in the Missouri Ozarks!

I photographed this specimen on November 1st of this year, in a dry-mesic woodland about a 1/2 mile from the Current River in Shannon County. Associated plants include Asimina triloba and Asarum canadense. It has a taproot. No odor.

Justin and Scott may NOT participate in this quiz: Justin identified the mystery plant for me at the botany slideshow.

Keith gave the very first guess and nailed it... it is the fall foliage of the biennial Osmorhiza claytonii, getting ready to bloom in spring. Obviously I'll have to pick a harder one next!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Botany Slideshow Extravaganza - A Recap

The 8th Annual Botany Slideshow Extravaganza took place in Salem, Missouri on 6-7 November 2009. Here, I will attempt to provide a recap of this outstanding event for those of you who couldn't make it. Every year, the slideshow gets better, and this year's event certainly followed this trend.

Lindsay, Bootypants, and I drove to Salem on Thursday afternoon so that we could be there for a new addition to the extravaganza, the pre-slideshow field trip.

We joined Bryn, John, and Rilo and Dana, Justin, and Eli for a trip to Cave Spring in Shannon County, Missouri. Our ~5 mile hike to the cave and back took us through a variety of plant communities, where we saw a diversity of plants highlighted by the late-flowering asters and goldenrods.

We were also treated to great views from dolomite bluffs of the Current River. A few small dolomite glades were also encountered.

Cave Spring itself was very interesting. We were only able to go a short way into the cave before it was too dark to see, and the muddy, slippery substrate made footing unstable at best.

Very near to the cave itself were two of the biggest healthy Ulmus americana individuals that any in our group had ever seen. In the photograph to the right, I am between a Platanus occidentalis on the left and a 36" DBH U. americana on the right.

We had beautiful weather for the hike, and were fortunate enough to see an adult Bald Eagle soaring overhead while we were admiring Cave Spring.

Susan and Dan arrived on Saturday afternoon, and then Dana and Justin led us on a tour of their property. We saw numerous interesting plants (including 5 species of Andropogon), and heard about Dana and Justin's plans for maintaining and restoring the property. Other attendees, including Andrew, Doug, Paul, and Allison trickled in; then, it was time for the main event.

Unfortunately, my photos of the slides shown below don't do justice to the quality of the slides or the presentations. As they always say, you just had to be there.

Justin led off the slideshows by explaining to everyone how much he and I happen to love socks, and how our hosiery infatuation took us to Fort Payne, Alabama in the spring of 2009. After several hilarious slides about socks, Justin got into the meat of his presentation about the plants that the two of us saw on Trillium Tromp 2009 in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.

Susan was next to present, adding a more technical aspect to our event by discussing work she is doing to determine the difference between vegetative plants of Zizia aptera and Thaspium trifoliatum. For those of you familiar with these two taxa, you know how much of a pain they are to distinguish as seedlings, but Susan really seems to be onto something.

Dan's presenentation on rare plants found on National Park Service property in 2009 was next. This presentation included lots of great photos of beautiful rarities.

I was next to present, and showed slides of the trip that Lindsay and I took to Colorado in July 2009, focusing on the Montane, Subalpine, and Alpine life zones. As I told the group, even after spending time in the cloudforest and rainforest in Costa Rica and Peru, the alpine tundra is still probably my favorite life zone of those that I've seen to date.

Doug's lively presentation had several themes, including Belize, lichens, and the delicate beauty of grass stamens. We were honored to have Doug in attendence, and his presentation raised the bar for botany slideshow quality.

This year's slideshow quiz was presented by Dana. After relaxing all night and enjoying slides of beautiful plants, this slideshow made us all think as we tried to identify all of the plants that Dana showed us. As always, major botanical prizes were awarded following this slideshow.

Paul and Allison then showed informal slideshows of their recent trip to quality natural areas in Texas and Louisiana, followed by even more informal slideshows by Justin and me. There was plenty of plant talk, and we looked at numerous pressed plant specimens. We were also treated to a tremendous pulled pork dinner with all the fixings during the slideshow.

I think the final slide of Doug's slideshow pretty much sums it up...

Special thanks goes out to Dana and Justin for hosting the best botany slideshow yet. I can't wait to see how we can possibly make it even better next year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quiz Time!! JohnnyHank Nails It!!

JohnnyHank says it is Strophostyles helvula. Librarian or not, that is the right answer. Here is a photograph of the flower.

Some of you may be asking yourself "Doesn't Strophostyles helvula have lobate lateral leaflets?". That is where I was a bit tricky. This is actually S. helvula var. missouriensis which lacks the lobes on the lateral leaflets (the typical variety has lobed leaflets).

Vegetatively the genus Strophostyles can be distinguish from Amphicarpaea bracteata, which it most resembles, by its erect stipules. Amphicarpaea looks exactly like Strophostyles helvula var. missouriensis but has appressed stipules. By clicking on the photo above you can see the stipules in the enlarged version. They are perpendicular to the stem.

Lesson learned; Librarians make great botanist. If only it worked both ways.

Thanks to everyone for playing!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's This? Justin Knows!

I recently posted this photograph as a plant quiz...

It is difficult to post a quiz on this blog that lasts more than a day without an answer. Justin correctly identified the mystery seedling in the photograph above as Penthorum sedoides. Ditch Stonecrop, as it is commonly known, is native to wet meadows, marshes, ditches, and muddy shores throughout the eastern half of North America, and has been introduced in the Pacific Northwest. Once accepted as a member of the family Saxifragaceae, it seems that most authorities now place this interesting plant in the family Crassulaceae; some even put it the Penthoraceae. As this species matures, it produces greenish-white, inconspicuous flowers; the flowers develop into attractive reddish follicles with spreading beaks, shown below. Penthorum means "five-mark," a reference to the five-parted flowers, and sedoides means "resembling Sedum."

Nice work, Justin.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Diplazium pycnocarpon, formerly Athyrium pycnocarpon

Good call, Scott and John! Diplazium pycnocarpon it is, also known as Glade Fern or Narrow-leaved Spleenwort. In northern Indiana this exceedingly rare native grows in rich mesophytic woods, in deep humus and deep shade. It has a special affinity for those rich riparian bottoms that don't get scoured bare by filthy water gushing in torrents from denuded uplands every time it rains. Fertile blades are rare and emerge in late summer.

Henry David Thoreau said, "Nature made ferns for pure leaves, to show what she could do in that line." Well said, and noted!

Sunday, November 1, 2009