Wildflowers of 2016 - #141 Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
My first flower of the day was a non-native member of the Mint Family (Lamiaceae) - Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). Motherwort is native to Eurasia and was once commonly grown as a medicine. It can grow in a variety of wet and dry habitats in both sun and shade and has naturalized throughout most of North America.
|A colony of Motherwort|
Motherwort can be identified by it pairs of opposite leaves with three sharply-pointed lobes. Each pair of leaves grows perpendicular the pairs above and below. The plant's pink (or white) flowers grow from each leaf axil.
|Motherwort - note lobed leaves and flowers in leaf axils|
Wildflowers of 2016 - #142 Border Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium)
The next species is another non-native - Border Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium). This species is not native to North America, but is commonly grown as a landscape shrub. Border Privet has escaped from these domestic plantings and is now naturalized in 20 states. This a relatively new alien species, it was first recorded in the wild in Michigan in 1959 and the record of its occurrence is probably incomplete. It is not listed by Michigan Flora for Isabella County.
|Border Privet - a potentially invasive shrub|
Border Privet is one of three Privet species found in Michigan. I based the identification of this specimen on the size (small) and location of the flower clusters in relation to the rest of the plant. Although these pictures do not show it well, these plants have flower clusters all along their stems and not just at the tips (a feature of Common Privet and California Privet).
|Border Privet - note tubular flowers with four petals/lobes|
Wildflowers of 2016 - #143 White Avens (Geum canadense)
My first native species of the day was White Avens (Geum canadense). White Avens is a perennial that can grow up to 48 inches tall. It grows throughout the eastern United States and Canada as far west as Wyoming and Montana. Part of the reason for this species' wide range is its adaptability. While the plant is most commonly found in moist woodlands, it will also grow in dry woodlands or even open fields.
|White Avens - note small white flowers and leaves with three leaflets|
White Avens can be identified by its basal leaves which are split into three leaflets. Plants have smaller leaves (also with three leaflets) growing alternately along the plant's rising stem. The basal leaves resemble those of Wild Strawberry plants - I have White Avens growing in my garden at home that I only notice once it grows over the top of the surrounding strawberries.
|White Avens flower - note five petals and five short sepals|
The flowers of White Avens are about 1/2 inch across and have 5 small white petal with five pointed green sepals between the petals. The sepals are shorter than the petals. The flowers grow in one or several branched clusters at the end of the stem. Flowers bloom sequentially from the lowest to the highest.
Wildflowers of 2016 - #144 Narrow-leafed Cattail (Typha angustifolia)
Mill Pond Park is named because much of the park fits within the former boundaries of the city's mill pond. Water from this pond was once used to power a flour mill and a sawmill. While the dams that formed this pond are now gone, the water that they held protected portions of the Chippewa River's floodplain from being developed. Part of this floodplain is now occupied by a large emergent marsh. The primary plants found growing in this marsh are cattails. There are two species of cattails found growing in this marsh (and possibly hybrids of the two species). I found both species growing within the confines of the floodplain, starting with the Narrow-leafed Cattail (Typha angustifolia).
Narrow-leafed Cattail is native to North America, but is probably not native to Michigan. It can be aggressive and will often out-compete Common Cattail (T. latifolia) when the two species are found together. Some states list Narrow-leafed Cattail as an invasive species.
|Narrow-leafed Cattail flower emerging from its protective sheath|
Both species have narrow ribbon-like leaves. However, the width of these leaves is not a reliable way to distinguish between the two species. While Narrow-leafed Cattail generally has narrower leaves than Common Cattail, there is overlap in size.
|Narrow-leafed Cattail - note the gap between the male (upper) and female (lower) flowers|
The most reliable way to decide between the species in the field is to look at their flowers - the "cat tails". The flowers of both species are divided into two parts with the male (staminate) flowers being located near the end of the stalk and the female (pistillate) flowers located further down on the same stalk. On the Common Cattail, the two halves of the flower touch with no gap between them. The male and female flowers of Narrow-leafed Cattail are separated by a gap. Hybrids of the two species probably have a narrower gap, but there is not reliable way to identify hybrids outside the lab.
Wildflowers of 2016 - #145 Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a Eurasian native that has also naturalized across most of North America. Also known as Catmint, Catnip was widely planted during Colonial times for its medicinal properties. Like most non-native species, it is most common in disturbed habitats.
|Catnip (Nepeta cataria)|
Catnip grows to a height of 1 to 3 feet. It has opposite leaves that are roughly heart-shaped with toothed margins. The undersides of the leaves and stems are covered with dense whitish hairs - this gives the plant a grayish-green appearance.
|Catnip - a closer view of the flowering spike|
Catnip Flowers are arranged in a spike at the top of the plant and in the upper leaf axils. The flowering spike may be nearly 3 inches long, but individual flowers are small (1/4 to 1/2 inch across) The flowers are white with pink or purple spots.