Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Name That Plant - Aster lanceolatus var. hirsuticaulis

I recently posted the following plant quiz...

This one probably isn't for the faint of botanical heart. I've included several photos to hopefully give someone enough to come up with the name of this plant. Tony shouldn't participate by providing an answer, as he was with me when we saw this plant in Douglas County, Wisconsin. Good luck!

Underside of leaf

Top of leaf

Leaf venation

Stem and leaves
Below are a couple of additional photographs of this plant.

The best that I can tell, this is Aster lanceolatus var. hirsuticaulis, a hairy-stemmed variety of Aster lanceolatus. Aside from the fairly densely pubescent stem and pubescent leaf undersides, this variety looks like Aster lanceolatus var. lanceolatus. I have only ever seen this hairy-stemmed variety in Douglas County, Wisconsin, though it is said to occur also in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota, as well as in Ontaria and Manitoba.

Anonymous had guessed Aster lanceolatus ssp. hesperius, a more western species that ranges east into Wisconsin. The stems of this species are said in Flora of North America to be "glabrous or at most hairy in lines." In addition, the flowering heads of this species are subtended by large leaf-like bracts, and the outer phyllaries are 2/3 as long as the inner ones (versus 1/3 to 2/3 as long as the inner ones in A. lanceolatus var. hirsuticaulis). Without the last two photos that I've posted, you wouldn't have been able to see these floral characters.

Nice job to all who made guesses, as all were very close and my photos weren't that good.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bleached Blazing Stars

You often will find botanists and wildflower enthusiasts doing flips and cartwheels in the field when chance brings them to plants with petals of a pigment that differs from the norm for a given species. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it is pretty exciting to find "forma" that are not as common as the typical species.

Last weekend, I led a field trip at Pine Station and Clark and Pine Nature Preserves in Northwest Indiana for Shirley Heinze Land Trust. A common species in the panne and swale communities is Liatris spicata, which normally has pinkish-purple flower heads clustered in a wand-like spike.

We were lucky enough to also see the white-flowered form of this species, Liatris spicata forma albiflora.

Also locally common in the drier sand at these sites is Liatris cylindracea, which normally has an open inflorescence of lavender-pink flower heads.

Lo and behold, we stumbled upon Liatris cylindracea forma bartelii, which has stark white disc flowers.

I never grow tired of seeing Liatris and the many insect species that visit them in their natural habitats, but it is even more of a thrill to see the white needle in the amethyst haystack once in a while.

Spiranthes romanzoffiana

I had Scott help me with the ID. The lip was more than 5.5 mm, and the pubescence of inflorescence was capitate. I kept missing the fiddle-shaped lip, not knowing quite what that looks like. That kept taking me to S. cernua.

This orchid was growing along a dry trail border in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Plant Quiz Solved - Oxalis violacea, Violet Wood Sorrel

Rats - I was hoping to stump the botanists! Good call, Scott. Yes, it's a remontant bloom of Oxalis violacea wihout leaves. In fact, if you zoom in on the picture, you can see oxalate deposits at the tips of the sepals on unopened flowers. These can also be seen in the notch on the emarginate leaflets when they are present. I would like to know if remontant bloom on this plant is always scapose (a flowering scape without leaves).

The plants are flowering at Fred Rose Park in Hobart, Indiana, where Sandy O'Brien is doing an EXCELLENT job of restoring the savannah with prescribed burns. Two of these plants were discovered on a dry clay slope in partial sun. Photographed on 8-12-2010.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Plant Quiz - Aralia hispida

Full plant view
Growing on the granite shores of the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron

At least I think I know the family ;)