Monday, July 22, 2013

Fringed Loosestrife

The nodding flowers of Lysimachia ciliata seem to light up the shaded darkness of wooded floodplains in summer. Note the ciliate leaf petioles.Photographed at Potato Creek State Park in St. Joe County, Indiana. This is a very common native plant.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Piedmont Bedstraw

The tiny Galium pedemontanum was first discovered in the Chicago Region by the sharp-eyed Ken Dritz, who found it as a lawn weed in both St. Joseph and Starke Counties in Indiana. Good work Ken!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Field Madder

Little Sherardia arvensis is one of many obscure weeds that the inimitable Ken Dritz discovered in the Chicago Region. He also discovered numerous native plants in places where they were not previously known, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for adding so much to our knowledge of wild plants in the Midwest. Thanks Ken! Photographed in a lawn at New Carlisle, Indiana.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tall Bellflower

Campanula americana is a common native that tolerates the deep shade of mesic woods but often shows up along trail edges, forested road edges, and near treefalls where a little sunlight gets in. Common in northern Indiana, it's my guess that it's common all over the state, with a possible exception of the prairie counties in the northwest corner. The flowers are attractive and unusual, and if it was a rare plant we'd go crazy over seeing it. At any rate, it's a native and we should enjoy it when we see it. Photographed in rich woods in rural LaPorte County, Indiana.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Red-berried Elder

Growing in rich, deeply shaded forests, Sambucus pubens is much less common than the related Common Elderberry (S. canadensis). This one was photographed in rural LaPorte County, Indiana. The crushed foliage of this shrub smells pretty bad!

Friday, July 12, 2013


Campanula rotundifolia ranges pretty much all over North America, with the exception of the southeastern US. In northern Indiana, it is occasional in sandy Black Oak savannas and frequent on the foredunes of Lake Michigan. The specific epithet "rotundifolia" draws attention to the rounded basal leaves, which, in my experience are more often reniform (kidney shaped). The cauline leaves are linear. This plant can be difficult to photograph because the flowers almost always are dancing around in the breeze on their delicate stems. Photographed on the foredunes of Lake Michigan in Porter County, Indiana on July 11, 2013.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spatulate-leaved Sundew (Drosera intermedia)

Occasional on wet sand flats and abundant in sphagnum bogs, sundews are plants that capture insects and eat them! Well, they don't actually chew them up and swallow, but they do absorb nutrients from the bodies of the bugs they trap. The bugs get caught in the sticky liquid on the leaf hairs and the rest is history. In northern Indiana, sundews should begin producing small, white, 5-merous flowers in the next week or so. This video shows a variety of insectiverous plants, with a time-lapse of the closely-related Round-leaved Sundew at 1:10.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Swamp Candles

Adding brightness to the low meadow on overcast days, Lysimachia terrestris is occasional in low, sometimes mucky spots in high quality wet meadows. Photographed at Liverpool Sandpits in Lake County, Indiana on July 7, 2013. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wild Blueberry

Have you noticed the super abundance of all kinds of fruit this summer, both wild and cultivated? Recall last spring that it just never got warm outside, and it seemed like every weekend was cold and wet. Somewhere at a greenhouse my wife talked with a guy from Arkansas or Alabama and he called it a "raspberry winter." He said that a spring like that would result in more fruit that we knew what to do with and it's starting to look like he was right. We could attribute this to the abundant rain this summer, and while that certainly helps with the size of the fruit, something good had to happen last spring when these plants were flowering.
This Vaccinium was fruiting with more abundance and larger fruit than I had ever seen, at a sandy black oak savanna in Lake County, Indiana. It was a low shrub about knee high, and it is either Vaccinium angustifolium or V. pallidum. Can anyone offer opinions on the I.D? Thanks! I apologize but I didn't notice whether the underside of the leaf was pale or not.   Eat well, breathe easy, and thank a plant for both!