Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #63 through #75

I enjoy hunting for flowers, but having given myself the goal of documenting as many species as possible in one growing season sometimes it almost feels like work.  I know that I have to go out every few days or I may miss something.  I already know most of the species that I will find, but there are few that stump me.  If nothing else, I am getting better at using my field guides to identify those flowers that I don't know. 

One Friday May 23rd,  I found two more species to add to my list of the Wildflowers of 2014.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #63 Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia)

Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia) is a small non-native plant that is commonly found in lawns, along roadsides, and in other areas of disturbed ground.  It spreads easily and can be found in most types of upland habitats and along the banks of rivers and streams.  Because of its small size (4-12 inches tall) this plant rarely outcompetes native species.  It is usually only noticed when it forms a fairly large colony and the flowers can be seen.  The small flowers (1/4 inch across) form in a raceme at the top of the stalk and are usually white with dark blue veins.

I found this small colony growing along the paved trail through Mill Pond Park.

Thyme-leaved Speedwell in a mixed lawn

The flowers of Thyme-leaved Speedwell are only 1/4 inch across and bloom on a elongated cluster called a raceme.

Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia)

Wildflowers of 2014 - #64 American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia)

The next flower belongs to an understory tree called the American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia).  This small tree is named after its inflated seed capsules.  Tree grows to a height of eight to fifteen feet.  It grows in wet woods and floodplains throughout the eastern United States and Canada.

The small whitish, bell-shaped flowers of the American Bladdernut are pollinated by bees and flies. 

American Bladdernut trees

The dried seed capsules that give Bladdernut its name

Whitish bell-shaped flowers of American Bladdernut

The next wildflowers were photographed on Monday 26 May 2014.  Numbers Sixty-five through Seventy-six were all found at Mission Creek Woodland Park. 

Wildflowers of 2014 - #65 Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

On Memorial Day, I took several hours to search for more flowers.

The first flower that I found was an invasive shrub - Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica).  This species can be distinguished from the other common common species of non-native honeysuckles by its rosy-pink flowers.  This shrub grows throughout the Mt. Pleasant parks system.  Like other non-native Honeysuckle species, this shrub was originally grown as a landscape plant but escaped into wild areas when birds deposited its seeds in their droppings.

Tartarian Honeysuckle

Tartarian Honeysuckle can be identified by its paired rosy-pink flowers

Wildflowers of 2014 - #66 Common Apple (Malus pumila)

The next flower is another non-native species - Common Apple (Malus pumila).  There are a number of Apple Trees in the parks in Mt. Pleasant.  Some of them were planted deliberately, others grew from seed.  There are the remnants of an old orchard at Mission Creek Woodland Park - those flowers have been blooming for about a week.  This tree is a wild growing tree that is not a part of that old orchard - it is growing along the slope of the bluff along Mission Creek.

Common Apple flowers

Wildflowers of 2014 - #67 Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

The next flower is one that I have been hoping to see for several weeks.  I usually find Wild Columbine (Aquiulegia canadensis) every year.  It has a fairly lengthy bloom period, with individual plants flowering between April and June - so finding the first bloom during the last weekend of May is a little late.  I found two plants in bloom along the edge of Mission Creek and took several photographs.  In the photo you can see the plants dangling red flowers.  Like most red flowers, this species is visited and pollinated mainly by hummingbirds.

Wild Columbine (Aquiulegia canadensis)

Wildflowers of 2014 - #68 Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra) is one of two species of Baneberry found in Mid-Michigan.  It can be distinguished from White Baneberry (A. pachypoda) by the color of its berries (red vs. white), shape of the flowers (less cylindrical than those of White Baneberry), hairs on the underside of its leaves (White Baneberry is hairless), and to a lesser degree by habitat (A. rubra is more likely to be found in wet soils than A. pachypoda).  The best way to determine between the two species is by the berries.  I am assuming this plant to be Red Baneberry based on all the above factors.  White Baneberry is listed below at #74 - I based its identity by having found White Baneberry growing in that location previously.

Red Banebrry (Actaea rubra)

Red Baneberry flower and leaves - young flowers are roughly pyramid shaped and undersides of leaves are hairy

Wildflowers of 2014 - #69 Cleavers (Galium aparine)

The next flower is known by several names Cleavers, Goosegrass, or Annual Bedstraw (Galium aparine).  Cleavers is a native plant found around the world - Michigan Flora indicates that its range in Michigan is spreading northward.  Cleavers is an annual plant that is normally found in upland sites, but may grow in wetlands - I found it growing through the Red Maple swamp at Mission Creek.
Cleavers is one of approximately twenty Galium species found in Michigan, most of which are similar in appearance.  Like most of the other species, Cleavers has small white flowers with four petals.  Cleavers can be identified by its leaves which grow in whorls of 6 to 8 (more than the other species).

Wildflowers of 2014 - #70 Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Wildflower #6 for the day and #70 for the year is the Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). Mayapples produce large white flowers that are hidden under their large umbrella-like leaves.  Immature plants will only produce one leaf and will not flower.  Mature plants produce a pair of leaves that grow from a single stem.  A single white flower which grows from the point where the stem splits in two.  When the flower is pollinated the plant will produce a single yellow berry that can be from 1 to 2 inches in diameter.  When ripe this fruit is edible.  All other parts of the plant (including unripe fruit) are toxic.

Mayapple often forms large colonies.  The colony spreads both by seeds and by thick rhizomes. 

A large colony of Mayapple - look close and you can see white flowers under the leaves

Mayapple leaves - note the white flowers (left of center and bottom right corner) growing beneath the leaves

An immature (one leaf) and mature (right) Mayapple

Mayapple flower

Wildflowers of 2014 - #71 Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)

The next flower was the one that I went to Mission Creek specifically to find.  Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) is often found in wet areas of deciduous and mixed forests.  I found this flower growing in two separate locations in upraised areas within the Red Maple swamp at Mission Creek.  Foamflower is also known as False Mitrewort because its leaves resemble those of Two-leaf Mitrewort.  While the flowers of Two-leaf Mitrewort are arranged singly along a raceme, the blooms of Foamflower are arranged in a cylindrical cluster that rises up from the plants basal leaves.  It is named Foamflower because the flowers long bear long stamen that give the flower a feathery or frothy appearance.

Two-leaf Mitrewort (left) and Foamflower or False Mitrewort (center and right)

Foamflower - note the paired basal leaves and single flower stalk

Foamflower - note how the long stamen give the flower a "feathery" or "foamy" appearance

Wildflowers of 2014 - #72 Pennsylvania Bitter Cress (Cardamine pensylvanica)

The next flower was also found growing in the wetland area of Mission Creek.  Pennsylvania Bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica) is the fourth Caramine species on the 2014 list - the others were  #12 Cut-leaved Toothwort (C. concatenata), #26 Spring Cress (C. bulbosa), and #34 Broad-leaved Toothwort (C. diphylla).  Pennsylvania Bittercress is best identified by its leaves.  It has compound leaves, but the separate leaflets often grow together along the stem (especially the three leaflets closest to the end of the leaf).  Like the other three Cardamine species on this list, Pennsylvania Bittercress has small white flowers with four petals.

Pennsylvania Bittercress - note the tiny white flowers with four petals

Pennsylvanis Bittercress - note the compound leaves with leaflets that often run together

Wildflowers of 2014 - #73 White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda)

Number Seventy-three is White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) - a close relative of #68 Red Baneberry (A. rubra).  In the above text for Red Baneberry I discussed the ways to distinguish between the two plants before they bear fruit.  In the second picture below you can see the hairless underside of a leaf - one of the distinguishing features.

White Baneberry in a Beech-Sugar Maple Forest

White Baneberry - note the cylindrical flower head and the hairless leaf

Wildflowers of 2014 - #74 Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

The next species is Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense).  This is another species that I was searching for on May 26th, but I did not find it where I expected to.  I had seen the leaves of this native plant growing along the margins of the wetlands at Mission Creek Park, however none of those flowers were in bloom.

Instead, I found this small colony of flowers growing at the base of a tree in the Beech-Sugar Maple forest.  Canada Mayflower is known by a variety of names.  Its leaves bear a resemblance to Lily-of-the-valley so it is known as False Lily-of-the-valley and Wild Lily-of-the-valley.  It is also known as False Solomon Seal - it shares the same genus (Maianthemum) with other False Solomon's Seal species.

The white flowers of Canada Mayflower bear a superficial resemblance to those of Baneberries or Foamflower.  Like those species, the white flowers of Canada Mayflower have long stamen, making each individual flower look like a 1950's Atomic Age art object.

A colony of Canada Mayflower

Although sometimes called Wild Lily-of-the-valley, its flowers identify it as a different species

Wildflowers of 2014 - #75 Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

The eleventh flower of May 26th (and the final one from Mission Creek Park) is the third Oak tree on my 2014 list - Red Oak (Quercus rubra).  Like the White Oak and Bur Oak, Red Oak is wind-pollinated.  Therefore it has dangling flower catkins that do not display colors to attract pollinators.

Red Oak - note the dangling catkins and leaves with pointed lobes

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful page.. I always take a walk in the woods wondering about different names.. The mayapple had caught my eye and I googled it's description and found your page.. That you for such beautiful pictures and descriptions... Your love for nature shines through.