Tuesday, January 26, 2010
January Botany + Plant Quiz
Monday, January 25, 2010
Name That Plant - An Answer
Here is the uncropped image of this plant...
This is Solidago uliginosa (Bog Goldenrod), growing amongst Equisetum arvense, Aster umbellatus, Calamagrostis canadensis, Rubus pubescens, Polygonum sagittatum, and others. Justin suggested the possibility of Solidago speciosa, which as he noted grows in drier conditions. Solidago uliginosa has thicker textured leaves that have a longer length to width ratio than those of S. speciosa. The lower leaves of S. uliginosa are somewhat clasping the stem, but this character isn't obvious in the quiz photo.
Solidago uliginosa is a polymorphic species of eastern North America, where it grows in bogs, marshes, and wet woods (Semple & Cook 2006). These photographs were taken on August 18, 2009 in Superior, Wisconsin. Plants of this species that we saw in Wisconsin look somewhat different from those that I typically see in Indiana. In fact, the first time I saw it, I had to ask our local expert which Solidago it was. Individuals of this species that I see in northern Indiana have fewer stem leaves and inflorescences that are less dense.
Solidago is from the Latin solido, meaning “to make whole or heal,” a reference to the medicinal qualities of the genus; the specific epithet uliginosa means “of marshes (Wisplants 2010).
Semple, J.C. & R.E. Cook. 2006. Solidago. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 15+ vols. New York and Oxford. Vol. 20.
Wisplants (http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=SOLULI), accessed 25 January 2010.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Amazingly, for three or four years in a row, a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker visited for about two weeks in early spring, showing a strong preference for the same tree. I have no idea whether it was the same bird each year, and only managed to get two photos through the window glass. The tree now exudes large amounts of sap from the holes but still seems healthy and fast-growing.
Tulip Trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) almost always have horizontal rings of holes. Are they from this bird? I don’t know, but I don’t recall ever seeing this bird on a Tulip Tree. And I happen to enjoy looking at the trunks of Tulip Trees!
More recently, a guy told me he had White Pines on his property with little holes in perfect rows and columns on the trunks. He had called his county agent, who informed him (without seeing the trees) that it was a disease and the trees should be destroyed, so he destroyed them! He said the trees were a foot in diameter! Incredible. Granted, there are probably a dozen insects / pathogens that make holes in pine bark, but in perfect rows and columns? Come on.
One final story. I cut some lower limbs off a White Pine in my yard and sap exuded from the scars all summer. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds visited those scars regularly, hovering at each one, making a full circle around the trunk. As far as I could tell they were eating sap. It seems like it would stick the two halves of their beaks together.
Sorry to ramble, but half the fun of exploring and observing is the subsequent telling of stories (even if they are sappy!)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Plant Quiz... Solved: Tilia americana, American Basswood
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Sarracenia purpurea L.
You can even buy a modern gold piece with Sarracenia purpurea on it: http://www.talismancoins.com/servlet/Detail?no=804
The finest photograph I have ever seen of this plant was created by Lee Casebere of the Indiana DNR. It is a work of art, and it was done before the ease of digital photography came along.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
To Honor A Rock Star
So what is that in Linnaeus' right hand? If you guessed a plant with a genus that bears his name, you are correct.
This is Linnaea borealis, Twinflower. In 1732, Linnaeus explored Lapland, a northern province of Sweeden, and collected 537 specimens during a season that he described as one of the most fruitful of his life. Over 100 of the plants that he collected on this trip were new to science. One of the specimens that he collected was a plant known as Campanula serpyllifolia. Thought to be rare before the Lapland excursion, Linnaeus found an abundance of this species on the foray. About this discovery, he wrote: "I tied my horse to an ancient Runic monumental stone, and, accompanied by a guide, climbed the mountain on the left side. Here were many uncommon plants, as Fumaria bulbosa minima, Campanula serpyllifolia, Adoxa moschatellina, &c., all in greater perfection than ever I saw them before." Campanula serpyllifolia was said to be Linnaeus' favorite plant. The Dutch botanist J.F. Gronovius later renamed the genus of this plant Linnaea in honor of Linnaeus. About this honor, Linnaeus self-mockingly wrote: "Linnaea was named by the celebrated Gronovius and is a plant of Lapland, lowly, insignificant and disregarded, flowering but for a brief space - from Linnaeus who resembles it." Linnaeus gave Twinflower the specific epithet borealis, meaning "of northern regions." Many paintings of Linnaeus, including his wedding picture, portray him holding a specimen of Twinflower. (http://www.plantbiology.siu.edu/PLB304/Lecture03HistTax/HistoryTaxon.html; http://www.linnean.org/index.php?id=381; http://www.linnaeus.uu.se/online/animal/1_16.html)
For more information on Linnaea borealis, see my recent post at Through Handlens and Binoculars.
Incidentally, some people say that Linnaeus has come back to life and is masquerading as a Japanese hibachi chef...
... but those claims are just "wild."
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
For more information and photos on this alluring orchid, see my recent post at Through Handlens and Binoculars.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Lake Michigan Transmogrified
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
White Spruce (Picea glauca)
Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)
Norway Spruce (Picea abies)
Arbor Vitae (Thuja occidentalis)
White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Holly (Ilex sp.)
Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
Marginal Fern (Dryopteris marginalis)