Sunday, December 30, 2012

Green in Winter: Trailing Arbutus

This rare little shrub, Epigaea repens, can be locally frequent in the high dune country near Lake Michigan. Photographed on December 30, 2012 in Porter County, Indiana.

The pictures below show the spicy-fragrant flowers that emerge in spring.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Green in Winter: Ebony Spleenwort

This little fern is native in northern Indiana, but it is not very conservative. It tends to show up in degraded sites, often on sandy acid soil and steep, north-facing slopes. It also can be found in high quality sites. The stipe and rachis are black or purple, and each pinna bears a small auricle near its base. Asplenium platyneuron is usually dark green during the growing season but tends to be pale in winter. 

Green in Winter: Goldthread

Coptis trifolia is occasional in swamp forests near Lake Michigan. It often grows on mossy green hummocks or fallen tree tip-up mounds near shallow pools of water. The common name makes reference to the bright orange-gold colored rhizomes.

Green in Winter: Round-leaved Pyrola

Listed as State Rare by the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, Pyrola rotundifolia americana is very difficult to find. There is a thriving colony in a preserve in northern Indiana, where this photo was created on December 27, 2012. Some are now calling it Pyrola americana.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Green in Winter: Spotted Wintergreen

Chimaphila maculata is not very common in Indiana, but in northern Laporte County it is locally frequent in acid sandy flats with partial shade.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Green in Winter: Spinulose Wood Fern

Dryopteris spinulosa is common in northern Indiana woodlands. It sometimes grows at the base of a tree where water is funneled down along the bark. It is now being called D. carthusiana.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Green in Winter: Common Speedwell

The text and picture below were posted earlier as a plant quiz. The plant was correctly named by Scott as Veronica officinalis, Common Speedwell. Good call, Scott!   This attractive little garden escape has a definite preference for dry, eroded clay slopes in partial shade. 

Posted previously: This plant was growing on a forested clay slope in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Do you recognize it? Feel free to name it or just take a guess. Good luck!

Green in Winter: Cursed Buttercup

This is probably Ranunculus sceleratus, fully green in a frozen woodland pond at Potato Creek State Park. In getting this picture, I stepped on a small log in the shallow pond. The log broke, and I went into the icy muck up to my knees. Fortunately the camera and tripod stayed upright on the ice. I was reminded of the time Scott Namestnik and I were botanizing a frozen, degraded wetland near South Bend, Indiana. Scott went through the ice and overtopped his boots, but by the time I got my camera ready, he had climbed out. I tried to talk him into getting back in for a picture, but he wouldn't cooperate!   

Unusual Ice

On a steep clay slope at Potato Creek State Park (North Liberty, Indiana), I found these unusual ice formations right on the surface of the ground. My guess is that moisture was seeping out of the clay and freezing.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Green in Winter: Plantain-leaved Sedge

The large, straplike leaves of Carex plantaginea are especially noticeable in winter. This plant is frequent in mesic forest remnants in northern Indiana, most commonly under beech and sugar maple. Photographed at Bendix Woods County Park near New Carlisle, Indiana on February 4, 2012.

Plantain-leaved Sedge is one of the earliest sedges to flower in spring, and also one of the showiest. Sedges are wind-pollinated and don't need to attract insects, and as a result, the flowers are apetalous (without petals). Even so, the flowers of this plant are very attractive. In the picture below, the pale yellow feather dusters are the staminate ("male") flowers; the transparent structures along the culms (stems) are the stigmas of the pistillate ("female") flowers. The photo below was created on April 9, 2011 in a privately-owned forest near Rolling Prairie, Indiana.
This is just a beautiful plant in every season!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Green in Winter: Sharp-lobed Hepatica

With its distinctive three-lobed leaves mottled with purple, Sharp-lobed Hepatica gives the winter explorer something extraordinary to admire. This plant has a special affinity for steep, wooded slopes on clay soil, but it occurs in a variety of woodlands. Long known as Hepatica acutiloba, it is now called Hepatica nobilis var. acutaPhotographed on December 24, 2011 at Potato Creek State Park near North Liberty, Indiana.

     "We must go out and re-ally ourselves to Nature every day. We must take root, and send out some little fibre at least, even every winter day. I am sensible that I am imbibing health when I open my mouth to the wind." Henry David Thoreau, Journal, December 29, 1856. 

When it flowers in March and April, the plant looks like this. Flower color can range from white to pink to purple, and many shades in between.