Sunday, December 26, 2010

Piloblephis rigida

Winter has definitely set in here in northern Indiana, so I am not taking many photos of plants these days. This is the time of year that I have a chance to go back through and post photos that I had intended to post earlier in the year but never did. Why not begin with a photo from March 2010... this is Piloblephis rigida, Wild Pennyroyal.

At the time that I took these photos, I was under the impression that Piloblephis rigida was endemic to Florida, but it appears that it is also known from a couple of locations in Georgia, where it is ranked S1. Piloblephis rigida grows in dry communites such as scrub, sandhills, and pine flatwoods. As with many mints, Wild Pennyroyal has various medicinal uses, including treatment of colds, fevers, and sores; it has also been used to induce vomiting.

You may be thinking, "that sure looks like a Satureja or Clinopodium." In fact, this low shrub is treated by some botanists as Satureja rigida or Clinopodium rigidum.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Burled Beech

At Warren Woods in Berrien County, Michigan, I ran into this unusual beech tree while exploring off-trail. Its exaggerated lower portion is covered with all manner of burls or catheads, and even the little sprouts of trees emerging from the roots are stunted and knobby. Does anyone know what would cause this? It is hollow, and I was hoping to find a thriving colony of trolls living inside, or better yet, elves baking cookies. Or, since Notre Dame isn't far away, maybe a leprechaun dressed in green and whistling the ND fight song, waiting to give away a pot of gold. No such luck!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Plant-Bug Quiz.... Solved!

I recently posted this question:

Can you name the plant, and the bug that makes these markings? Should be easy!

Prem and Scott both suggested, correctly, that the bug that does this is a leaf miner. I apologize that I can't call out the exact type. Scott suggested that the plant is Aster cordifolius, (Heart-Leaved Aster), and that is correct. Good work Prem and Scott!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spiranthes lucida

The South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society annual holiday potluck is this Sunday, and the program at this event is members' slide shows. I've been going through my photos to put together a quick slide show on Indiana orchids, and I wanted to post a photo of one of my favorite orchids, Spiranthes lucida. This photograph was taken in June 2008 at Springfield Fen in LaPorte County, Indiana.

Spiranthes is from the Greek words "speira" and "anthos," which mean spiral and flower, respectively. A look at the inflorescence makes clear how the genus got its name. Lucida means "shining," a reference to the very shiny leaves of this species. The bright yellow spot on the lip in combination with the early (relative to other Spiranthes) flowering time make this species an easy ID, if you can find it. Spiranthes lucida is known from much of the northern 2/3 of eastern North America, but it is a species of concern in ten states. You can find Shining Lady's Tresses in wet, calcareous areas with little competition, often in areas with some disturbance (such as lake margins and streambanks).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Aralia spinosa

I was working in Southwestern Indiana (Dubois County) in a woodland, when I came upon a stand of understory trees that looked from a distance like young Ailanthus altissima. They were spindly, with fat twigs, about fifteen feet max. When I got closer, I realized that they were Devils Walking Stick. It would have been fun to see the place in the summer, since I am not too familiar with this species.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lady's Slipper Orchids in Northern Indiana

Uncommon and difficult to find, these remnants of earlier times exist mostly due to the preservation efforts of caring people at The Nature Conservancy, the Indiana DNR Division of Nature Preserves, several private land trusts, and of course the people who support them.
Cypripedium candidum, Whippoorwill's Shoe, Small White Lady's Slipper

Cypripedium calceolus var. parviflorum, Small Yellow Lady's Slipper

Hybrid Lady's Slipper. This is a hybrid of the two previous species, Small White and Small Yellow Lady's Slipper. Depending on your treatment of the large and small yellows (as varieties or distinct species), this hybrid is either Cypripedium X andrewsii or Cypripedium X favillianum (see Swink and Wilhelm, 1994). This orchid is known to backcross with parents, resulting in a "hybrid swarm."

Cypripedium reginae, Showy Lady's Slipper

Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens, Large Yellow Lady's Slipper

Cypripedium acaule, Pink Moccasin Flower

"Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve life than destroy it." Henry David Thoreau, The Maine Woods

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trillium cuneatum?

Can anyone share thoughts on the identification of this Trillium? I'm labeling photos from 2010 and not sure what it is. Trillium cuneatum seems likely, though it would be a significant range extension where it was found in southern Michigan. It seems possible that it was introduced at the site, a rich forest remnant where it was growing by the hundreds with several other Trillium species. Thanks for any help!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Unusual Sundog

One nice thing about itinerant botanical exploration is the sights we take in along the way, and the telling of stories afterward. Four years ago I was in central LaPorte County, Indiana, looking northward as heavy lake-effect snow moved in from Lake Michigan. Sunshine bouncing through the myriad snowflakes produced wide bands of color in a striking variation of the classic "sundog."

"If the race had never lived through a winter, what would they think was coming?"
Henry David Thoreau journal, November 8,1850

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Fruity Quiz; Medicago sativa!!

Cdr nailed it! Who else knew that Alfalfa had spiraled fruits? I see it often as a lingerer or an escapee, but I had never noticed the fruits until I collected it this past summer. Hats off to you Cdr!

Hot on the heels of the last quiz comes another strange legume that threw me for a loop (a loopty-loop you might say). It is a species that occurs throughout the Midwest.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fruity Quiz: Apios americana!

Scott nailed it!!

First I thought this quiz would be too easy. Then I feared it was too difficult. I took the photo because I, just like Scott, had never seen Apios americana fruits. Evidently they are quite rare or at least overlooked.

The photo below has a few persistent leaflets if you want some confirmation on the ID. Thanks to everyone for participating.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Garden Oddities

Earlier this fall I discovered these helical carrots spooning obscenely in the garden...

...and shortly after, here was quack grass (I think) with a red potato firmly attached at the base. The grass rhizome had grown right through the potato!

Believe it or not!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Plant Quiz - Keith's Got It!

I recently posted the following plant quiz...

Well, October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month have come to an end. Thank you to all who participated by posting photos of pink plants.

Along with the "unpinking" of Get Your Botany On! comes this plant quiz...

Good Luck!

Keith was able to pick up on my subtle hints and correctly determine that the photo above shows a berry of Actaea rubra forma neglecta. In the typical forms, Actaea rubra (Red Baneberry) has red berries...

... and Actaea pachypoda (White Baneberry or Doll's Eyes) has white berries...

However, there is a fairly common form (the more common form in some places, including where I saw it in Douglas County, Wisconsin) of Red Baneberry with white fruits (called Actaea rubra forma neglecta, shown below). Amazingly enough, there is also a rare form of White Baneberry with pink or red fruits (called Actaea pachypoda forma rubrocarpa, which I have never seen). The ranges of these two species of Actaea overlap in the northern half of eastern North America, as Actaea rubra is found throughout much of western North America and in the northern half of the eastern half of the continent, and Actaea pachypoda is found from Quebec to Florida and as far west as Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

So how would one tell the difference between these two species if the fruit color is not reliable? Actaea rubra has pedicels (flower/fruit stalks) that are green or brown when in fruit, whereas Actaea pachypoda has pedicels that are pink to red when the plant is in fruit. In addition, the pedicels of Actaea rubra are slender (up to 0.7 mm in diameter, and thinner than the inflorescence stalk), whereas those of Actaea pachypoda are thick (0.7 to 3.0 mm in diameter, and about as thick as the inflorescence stalk). A third character to look for is the scar that remains on the berry when the stigma falls off and the plants are in fruit. In Actaea rubra, this scar is small, whereas in Actaea pachypoda, this scar (the "iris" of the "doll's eye") is larger.

Both of these medicinal species were used heavily by Native Americans. Actaea rubra was used to treat coughs, colds, and other illnesses; Actaea pachypoda was used to treat sore throats. The way I am feeling right now, I sure wish I had a little bit of both of these on hand.

Congratulations, Keith, for figuring out this plant quiz!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Deptford Pink and Floyd Swink

One of my favorite weeds, Dianthus armeria adds color to old clay fields, dry prairie remnants, and sandy savannas. Posted here in honor of all who have suffered with breast cancer.

On this very weekend ten years ago, the legendary Chicago region botanist Floyd Swink was honored at a memorial service at the Indiana Dunes State Park. Ken Dritz shared this limerick, pasted below, which he had "written" in his mind on the drive from Chicago. I am always reminded of it (and Floyd) when I see Deptford Pink.

A Light-Hearted Tribute, in Limerick Form,
to the Wit and Wisdom of Floyd Swink
Inspired by His Penchant for Puns
Kenneth W. Dritz
29 October 2000

Chickadee? Meadowlark? Bobolink?If we needed to know, we asked Swink.
Ev’ry bird this man knew;
Ev’ry flow’ring plant, too.
“You have there,” he might say, “Deptford Pink.”

As for fun, there was never a void.
For a pun lived this clever man, Floyd.
In the spirit of Marx
He would hold up a Lark/s-
pur and ask, “What is this—plant or boid?”

“If you mix plants and birds,” proclaimed he,
“You won’t know if you have Partridge PeaOr just old Crowfoot Grass.”
Now he’s left us, alas.
Wit and wisdom are his legacy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Final Flush of Pink

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month winds to a close, here are a few more pink plants to honor those who have suffered from this horrible disease.

Dianthus armeria (Deptford Pink)

Silene acaulis var. subacaulescens (Moss Campion)

Eupatoriadelphus maculatus var. maculatus (Spotted Joe Pye Weed)

Polygonum pensylvanicum (Pinkweed)

Spiraea tomentosa (Steeplebush)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Euonymus bungeana, Pink Lady Winterberry or Chinese Spindle Tree

This arching shrub is an escape from cultivation that grows west of South Bend, Indiana, along the edge of a woods near the Grand Trunk Railroad. It also grows in roadside thickets at several locations: northeast of Lydick, Indiana along Pine Road, in LaPorte County on CR 350 N, and south of Syracuse, Indiana along State Road 13. It does not seem obnoxiously invasive at any of these sites, but the fruits are so prolific that it probably could become a pest. The specific epithet is also spelled "bungeanus." The leaves turn pink in autumn, but apparently not this year.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Purple Fringed Orchid, Habenaria psycodes

Rare and local, this remarkable plant can still be found in quality swamp forests and open, wet meadows. It is now called Platanthera psycodes. If you have never looked into the intriguing mechanisms orchids use for pollination, you are in for a treat. Two excellent books for midwestern orchids are, "Orchids of the Western Great Lakes Region" by Frederick Case, and "Orchids of Indiana," by Michael Homoya, with stunning photos by Lee Casebere.

Showy Orchis, Orchis spectabilis

This orchid is getting very difficult to find. Photographed in southern Michigan in 2008. Now called Galearis spectabilis.

Goat's Rue, Tephrosia virginiana

In northern Indiana, Goat's Rue is occasional in sand prairie and oak savanna.

Toothwort, Dentaria laciniata

Ubiquitous in eastern mesic forests, Toothwort is one of the most common spring ephemerals. The 4-petaled flowers are usually white, but occasionally pink, as shown. The degree of toothing on the leaves is highly variable. This plant is now being called Cardamine concatenata, with "concatenata" meaning "joined together/ forming a chain," probably from the rhizomes with numerous constrictions.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Iliamna remota

Kevin has submitted another pink beauty in honor of all of those who have suffered from breast cancer. This is Iliamna remota (Kankakee Mallow), currently treated as Iliamna rivularis var. rivularis.

Thanks for submitting your photo, Kevin!

Vaccinium oxycoccos for Mayme

My mom lost her Aunt Mayme to breast cancer many years ago. This photograph of Vaccinium oxycoccos (Small Cranberry) is posted in honor of Mayme.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Orchid For The Ladies: Cypripedium reginae

Rare and local in Indiana, Showy Lady's Slipper is a strikingly large and attractive orchid. Presented in honor of all ladies who have dealt with breast cancer.

The Pink Underbelly of Red Maple, Acer rubrum

Red Maple is one of the most vividly colorful trees in the fall. Sometime take a look at the underside of the leaves - very often they turn a soft, pastel pink. Flash photography brings out detail, but it fails to capture the subtle color and beauty on the underside of this leaf.

Horse Mint, Monarda punctata

The floral bracts on this denizen of dry sand are more noticeable than the flowers. Pleasantly aromatic, even the dried stems smell good, and they provide one of the highlights of a winter trek in the sand country. "Punctata" means dotted or spotted. Can you see why?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Arthrostemma ciliatum for Kate

Before my mom was born, her grandmother, Kate, passed away as a result of breast cancer. I offer Arthrostemma ciliatum (pinkfringe) in Kate's memory.

This melastome is known in the United States only from Hawaii, where it is considered an introduced species. The photograph above was taken within its native range, in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Silene regia

Chris, from the Miami County Park District in Ohio, wanted in on the "pink out" going on at Get Your Botany On! and submitted this photograph of a pink Silene regia (royal catchfly). I've got to say that I've never seen anything like it.

This photograph was taken in a prairie remnant in Union County, Ohio.

Thanks for submitting your photo, Chris!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lespedeza violacea

This photo of Lespedeza violacea (Violet Lespedeza) was submitted by Get Your Botany On! follower Kevin, a volunteer at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, Illinois. Kevin is fortunate not to know anyone who has had breast cancer, but he wanted to submit this photo from his yard to honor those who have had the disease.

Thanks for providing this photo, Kevin!