Monday, May 30, 2011

A Member of the Loganiaceae

In early May, Justin Thomas and I took our annual botany trip; this year, we botanized in South Carolina. I finally had a chance to look through my photos from the trip and will be posting more later. In the meantime, here is what may be the only current member of the family Loganiaceae that I've ever seen.

This is Spigelia marilandica, an herbaceous species of mesic forests and streambanks found throughout the southeastern United States from Maryland to Texas and south. With tubular corollas and bright red corolla tubes, there is no question why this species is preferred by hummingbirds for its nectar.

The genus of Indian Pink or Pinkroot, as it is known, is named after Adrian Spiegel, who may have been the first to describe how to prepare an herbarium.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Clear Water

This attractive waterfall is on a tributary of the Salamonie River in Wabash County, Indiana. Remarkably, the stream runs clear even after heavy rains, a testament to the quality of uplands in the area.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Few Indiana Ferns, Part 3

The strange little ferns shown below are members of Ophioglossaceae, the Adder's Tongue Fern family. Many are highly variable and subject to much disagreement in nomenclature and identification.

Botrychium simplex?, Least Grape Fern
This very tiny fern was growing in thin woods along the edge of an open marsh. It is possibly Botrychium simplex, or conceivably could be a diminutive B. matricariaefolium (see below). Both species are highly variable. I am led to call it B. simplex mainly because of the absence of a midrib on the pinnae (lateral lobes of the blade).

Botrychium matricariaefolium, Daisyleaf Grape Fern

The specific epithet is also spelled matricariifolium. This curious little fern seems to be expanding its range in recent years. Once rare, it is becoming somewhat frequent in wooded areas. It has a special affinity for young Red Maple thickets that develop in formerly open areas. Its morphology is outlandishly variable.

Botrychium virginianum, Rattlesnake Fern
This is one of the few Botrychium ferns that is easy to identify. It's leaves are thin where most other Botrychiums are thick and leathery. It's blade is always triangular in outline, and it is much larger than the other Botrychiums. It is common in a variety of quality woodlands and even degraded woodlands. The reason for the common name is unclear.

Botrychium dissectum var. obliquum?, Oblique Grape Fern
This fern is somewhat common in northern Indiana, emerging in late summer or fall and persisting through the winter. Botrychium dissectum and its varieties are extremely variable; their nomenclature is caught in a never ending flux. I would be very surprised to find 3 or 4 authors who treat them the same, hence the question mark.

Ophioglossum vulgatum, Southern Adder's Tongue Fern
This small fern was photographed in deep shade in a hilly forest between the Salamonie and Wabash Rivers in central Indiana. The colony was discovered by Scott Namestnik.

Ophioglossum pusillum, Northern Adder's Tongue Fern
This inconspicuous little plant is somewhat easy to find in quality wet prairie remnants. It has a special affinity for the shade beneath large masses of Cinnamon Fern and Royal Fern in wet sand prairie. It is worth noting that it was an associate of the remarkable Thismia americana on the south side of Chicago.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Coeloglossum viride, Bracted Green Orchid

This is the elusive orchid long known as Habenaria viridis var. bracteata. More recently it has been called Coeloglossum viride var. virescens or var. bracteata, and now the USDA Plants database lists it as Dactylorhiza viridis. Common names include Bracted Green Orchid, Frog Orchid, and Satyr Orchid. Indiana’s legendary botanist Charles Deam found it in several counties, mostly in the northeast part of the state with outliers in west-central Indiana. It is listed as "threatened" in Indiana, and many authors say that it normally occurs as a single plant only.
The dorsal and lateral sepals of this orchid arch and converge to form a sort of hood above the column and lip. Viewed from above, it looks like the flowers are in bud but not opened. But if you put your face down by the ground and look up at the inflorescence, you can see into the open flowers! There is another greenish orchid with long bracts in the inflorescence: Platanthera flava. Care must be exercised when identifying either species; the morphology of the lip is perhaps the best field feature.

Scott Namestnik and I had the good fortune of seeing this plant in a state of FGB (full, glorious bloom) yesterday in a forest of hills and ravines near the Salamonie River. It is a challenge to find Coeloglossum in Indiana, and we owe a special debt of gratitude to Pete Grube, Jerry Sweeten, and Dave Hicks for helping us find it. The excellent discovery of this population was made by Tim Kimmel.

Remarkably, while I was attempting to get photos, Scott went exploring and found a small, sterile plant that could be a seedling of this orchid. Amazing! Of course, it could be something else, possibly a Liparis.

One of the best experiences for a botanist or a student of the flora is to visit a new site and learn lots of new species This is what happened on Sunday, and it was profoundly enjoyable!

Trientalis borealis ssp. borealis

While in swampy woods in LaPorte County, Indiana this past weekend scouting for a field trip I am leading this coming weekend, I saw several of the species that give rise to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources community classification name "boreal flatwoods." (Personally, I prefer the NatureServe community name of Pin Oak-Swamp White Oak-Red Maple Flatwoods Forest for this community, as the percentage of boreal species found in this community is actually fairly low.) One of those species, Trientalis borealis ssp. borealis, was in flower.

Trientalis means "a third of a foot," which apparently is a reference to the height of the plant (even though it gets about twice this size). The specific epithet borealis means "northern," a reference to the general distribution of this species. Although it is found as far south as Georgia, Starflower, as this species is known, is generally found in the colder climates of northern North America. In the southern reaches of its distribution, Trientalis borealis is known as a boreal relict - a species that has found refuge in the cool, wet woods with a microclimate most similar to the conditions present tens of thousands of years ago when Picea mariana and Larix laricina dominated this part of the country. Subspecies borealis is found in the eastern half of North America, whereas subspecies latifolia, with broader leaves and pink to rose corollas, is known from western North America.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Indian Love Charm, Aquilegia canadensis

Like tiny chandeliers, Columbines seem to light up the shaded hollows between old, wooded dunes and rock-walled canyons.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Celandine Poppy and Celandine

These two plants are sometimes confused by plant enthusiasts. Both flower at the same time and their deeply dissected leaves are similar. However, Stylophorum diphyllum is a native in rich woods with minimal disturbance, while Chelidonium majus is introduced and tends to appear along the edges of woods, especially degraded woods. The flowers and fruits of Chelidonium look like those of a mustard, but both plants are members of the Papaveraceae (Poppy Family).

Stylophorum diphyllum, Celandine Poppy (or Wood Poppy)

Chelidonium majus, Celandine

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Violet Wood Sorrel, Oxalis violacea

In northern Indiana this attractive little plant is occasional in dry prairie remnants and open, dry woodlands. In late summer, remontant flowers sometimes appear on scapose (leafless) stems.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Blue-Eyed Mary, Collinsia verna

One of the few woodland ephemerals that is annual, Collinsia verna has been diminishing over the past several years at the few places where I've seen it. Remarkably, I visited one of the sites today in LaPorte County, Indiana and found thousands of plants in flower. I was also pleased to see several types of bees visiting the flowers in good numbers.

When my friend Deesie Daisy told me a while back that she was going to Messenger Woods in Will County, Illinois to see the widespread displays of this plant, I told her she might be in for a great disappointment. I hope I was wrong. If anyone could report observations from there or anywhere else, that would be wonderful.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wildcat Glade

I attended the Missouri Native Plant Society field trip to Wildcat Glade in southwestern Missouri last weekend. Chert glades are a very rare natural community in MO, found only in Newton and Jasper Counties.

We saw two native sedum species, although they were unfortunately not quite in bloom yet. Below is Sedum pulchellum (widow's cross):

The excitement for the day was finding Trifolium carolinanum, Carolina clover, which has not been recorded from Missouri since the 1920's. We are on the northern edge for this southern annual species. The population consists of several robust colonies.

Below is tiny Sedum nuttallianum (Nuttall's sedum):

The little plant below fooled me at first, as I tried to put it through the Linum key. But it has four petals, not five, making it Oenothera linifolia.

The Selenia aurea was just finishing up its bloom, with only a few flowering stalks left. It must have been spectacular in full bloom!

Seed pods of the Selenia aurea:

Posted by Picasa