Thursday, January 31, 2013

Green in Winter: Jack Pine

In Indiana this scrubby native tree, Pinus banksiana, is frequent on the foredunes near Lake Michigan. Away from the lake most populations are likely to be escapes from cultivation. Further north, however, Jack Pine forms extensive native stands, providing habitat for the rare Kirtland's or "Jack Pine" Warbler.

The tree is often misshapen, or at least not perfectly cone-shaped, though on the foredunes it sometimes takes on a beautifully symmetrical form when it grows in dense stands. Photographed at the Indiana Dunes State Park in Porter County on January 26, 2013.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Green in Winter: Prince's Pine, Pipsissewa

The exceedingly rare Chimaphila umbellata var. cisatlantica is occasional in dune forests near Lake Michigan. Photographed beneath Jack Pines on the foredunes of Porter County, Indiana, January 26, 2013.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Green in Winter: Rough Goldenrod

This goldenrod, probably Solidago rugosa, was found near the edge of degraded woods on sandy soil. Photographed in LaPorte County, Indiana on January 5, 2013.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Remembering Floyd Swink

The comments in the previous post got me thinking about the legendary botanist Floyd Swink and what a remarkable life he led. When he passed away in the year 2000 he left a solid legacy of botanical awareness and a growing conservation ethic in the vast Chicago region. He was witty, funny, and brilliant in many subjects, especially botany and ornithology.
He mentored two of the finest naturalists ever to walk his beloved prairies: Jerry Wilhelm and Laura Rericha. In the picture above, Floyd is on the right and his protege, Jerry Wilhelm, is on the left. Photo courtesy of Jerry Wilhelm.

The picture below was taken by Emma Pitcher after Floyd walked through a dense colony of Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza). Thanks to Barbara Plampin for sharing it.

The Heinze Land Trust once sponsored a memorial celebration of Floyd's life, for which I wrote the poem below. It rambles and doesn't follow any of the rules of good poetry, and I apologize. 

I bought a book a while ago,
And it helped me see nature
With a clearer lens.
Plants of the Chicago Region
It was called. It guided me
To beautiful forests, prairies, and fens.
The authors turned out
To be the helpful type
And I began to learn the flora,
From Aquilegia to Indian Pipe.
I found out there’s a lot of Rhus radicans
To make you scratch,
And Polygala paucifolia
Grows in a patch
Near the top of an old wooded dune.
Polypodium stands nearby.
You could even find Epigaea
If you really try
And don’t give up too soon.
Elegant little slippers
Are known to sprout
When scarlet tanagers come out
And call “chic-bird” in the dunes.
There is always something new to learn,
Perhaps a Carex or some rare fern,
And for years, there was someone we could ask
For help when taxonomy was a heavy task.
His name was Floyd, and it came to be
That he named up the plants for you and me.
We’ll never forget him. His influence lives on.
Like Orchids and Lilies and Round-Leaved Croton
He brightened our days, and he enriched our minds.
Above all he was very intelligent, funny, and kind.
Floyd was one of our last links to “Plain Ol’ Charlie Deam,”
And we’ll not see their kind again, or so it would seem.
We’ll never forget him. Floyd’s influence lives on. So
We’ll continue to study his books
And we’ll smile when we think of his puns,
And we’ll treasure the memories of days in the field
With Floyd, true master of botany, vast knowledge revealed.
May each of us find in the words Floyd has written -
Inspiration to wander on, even when tired, and hungry, and bug-bitten.
Long live our passion for botany in the Chicago Region, and long live the memory and legacy of our extraordinary leader!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Green in Winter: Cranefly Orchid

Tipularia discolor produces a single leaf in autumn when the forest's canopy is thinning. The leaf is very distinctive: it has dark warts above and purple color beneath. According to the inimitable Floyd Swink, the leaf is "discolor and datcolor."  Cranefly Orchid sometimes grows in a mixed forest of beech and oak.

The picture below shows how the plant looks when it flowers in late summer. The flowers are thought to mimic the look of craneflies in the genus Tipula, hence the name Tipularia. Both photos from LaPorte County, Indiana.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Green in Winter: Wild Strawberry

Fragaria virginiana is very common in a variety of habitats and is especially abundant in sand country. Compound leaves like these, with three leaflets, are said to be "trifoliolate."
The picture below shows how the plant looks when it flowers abundantly in spring.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Green in Winter: Florist's Fern

Dryopteris intermedia grows in quality mesic forests. It is similar to Spinulose Wood Fern, but Florist's Fern has the innermost pinnule on the lowermost pinna shorter than to equaling the pinnule next to it. This fern is no longer used in the florist's trade. Photographed at Warren Woods in Berrien County, Michigan, on January 4, 2013.

Green in Winter: Buckhorn or English Plantain

Plantago lanceolata is a ubiquitous weed in the Midwest. It probably has an ample root system because it seems to thrive during severe drought. In dry weather it is common to hear a country person talking about "mowing off the buckhorn." The flower head is tapered-cylindrical, but in a few northern Indiana counties, Charlie Deam found a variety with spherical heads.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Green in Winter: Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Veronica hederaefolia  (= V. hederifolia) seems to be expanding its range in the Midwest. During the growing season its abundant hairs give it a grey-green appearance, making it noticeable from a distance. It grows densely and flowers and fruits profusely. This attractive little weed certainly could become a menace. Photographed on January 4, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana, along the edge of an abandoned parking lot where it was discovered in 2004. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Green in Winter: Cheeses

Malva neglecta is a little weed of gardens, vacant lots, and farm fields. Photographed in a vacant lot in South Bend, Indiana on January 4, 2013.

The picture below shows the attractive flowers that are produced throughout the growing season.

Green in Winter: Hairy Wood Rush

 Luzula acuminata is an uncommon plant in the Midwest. Look for it right at the summit of steep bluffs in old, undisturbed forests. The leaves often have a bronze colored tint, even during the growing season. New leaves are quite hairy along the margins but most of the hairs fall away by winter. Photographed at the summit of a high, steep bank overlooking the Galien River in Berrien County, Michigan.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Green in Winter: Deeproot Clubmoss

Lycopodium tristachyum is pretty difficult to find in Indiana. It does show up occasionally in acid sand flats that have a thin, scrubby growth of trees. Photographed in LaPorte County on January 1, 2013. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Green in Winter: Shining Club Moss

Lycopodium lucidulum is occasional in hummocky swamp forests near Lake Michigan. It is now being called Huperzia lucidula

Green in Winter: Oregon Grape Holly

Mahonia repens is a sprawling shrub that has escaped from cultivation in northern Indiana. It produces bright yellow flowers in early spring.

Green in Winter: Pennsylvania Bittercress

Cardamine pensylvanica is a native, white-flowered mustard that sometimes grows in the shallow water of a roadside ditch, especially where the water is somewhat clean. Photographed in a shallow, frozen ditch in Porter County, Indiana, on January 1, 2013..

Green in Winter: Partridge Berry

This small native is locally frequent in wet, hummocky forests behind the dunes near Lake Michigan. Photographed in LaPorte County, Indiana on December 27, 2012.

Green in Winter: Small Geranium

This attractive little weed, Geranium pusillum, is very common in St. Joseph County, Indiana, especially in sandy lawns. Photographed in a South Bend city park on December 23, 2012.

Green in Winter: Birdseye Speedwell

This is probably Veronica persica, a common lawn weed in South Bend, Indiana. It is interesting to note that three flower buds (with rolled up blue corollas) are visible in the left third of the picture. The flower buds already have peduncles and the leaves are a bit too large for V. polita. Photographed in a South Bend city park on December 23, 2012.