Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #76 through #82

In my last post I included photos of flowers that I found on Memorial Day (26 May 2014).  The next seven flowers were also photographed on that day.  While all of the flowers from the last post were taken at Mission Creek Woodland Park, the flowers in this post were all found at Mill Pond Park.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #76 Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana)

The next flower is one that had me stumped temporarily.  The large flat-topped clusters resembled the flowers from several Viburnum species, but the leaves did not resemble any Viburnums that I already knew.  It is a Viburnum, but it is a non-native one - Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana).  Wayfaring Tree is widely cultivated but is not a common escapee; Michigan Flora lists herbarium specimens for only ten counties in Michigan.  It is not listed for Isabella County - there are gaps in the records of many species in the state.

A colony of Wayfaring Tree

The large flat flower cluster identify this shrub as a Viburnum; the leaves identify it as Viburnum lantana

Wildflowers of 2014 - #77 Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

The next flower belongs to another non-native plant.  Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) is an attractive member of the Mustard family that is often planted in gardens.  Like most other Mustard species, Dame's Rocket produces large amounts of seed.  The number of seeds makes it easy for the plant to escape cultivation.  Once established in a wild area it can quickly become a dominant plant and crowd out less aggressive native plant.  Many people mistake Dame's Rocket for Wild Phlox.  The differences are actually easy to identify.  Wild Phlox will have leaves that are opposite and flowers with five petals; Dmaes Rocket leaves grow alternately and the flowers have four petals.

Dame's Rocket - the four petals identify this plant as a member of the Mustard family

Dame's Rocket - a close view of the flower head

Wildflowers of 2014 - #78 Upright Carrion-flower (Smilax ecirrata)

The third flower of the day at Mill Pond Park, and Number 79 overall was Upright Carrion Flower (Smilax ecirrata).  The flowers of this plant are whitish-green and grow in globe-shaped clusters that help this plant live up to its name - the flowers smell like rotting meat.  The plant uses this smell to attract flies which serve as their primary pollinators.  Upright Carrion Flower can be distinguished from the three other species of Carrion Flower that are found in Michigan by its upright growth pattern (the other species are all vines) and the lack of climbing tendrils.

Upright Carrion Flower - the flowers are the green globes in the center of the picture

Upright Carrion Flower - a closer view of the globe-shaped green flowers and heart-shaped leaves

A fly pollinates an Upright Carrion Flower

Wildflowers of 2014 - #79 Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Wildflower #79 for the year belongs to a small tree that would look more at home in a tropical forest than in a Mid-Michigan hardwood forest.  That's because Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) belongs to a group of plants that are primarily found in the tropics and sub-tropics.  Pawpaw is the only member of the family that grows as far north as Michigan.  Mount Pleasant is actually outside the listed range for this plant, but there is a small patch of them growing along the trail in Mill Pond Park.  The tree bears 1-2 inch wide purple-red flowers that, like Upright Carrion Flower (#78), smell rotten to attract flies and to a lesser extent beetles as pollinators.  For more information on the Pawpaw look here.

Pawpaw flowers usually bloom before the leaves  reach their full size

A closer view of the Pawpaw flower - these smelly purple-red flowers attract flies as their main pollinators

Wildflowers of 2014 - #80 Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

The next flower that I found was growing directly on the edge of the Chippewa River. The reddish branches and white flat-topped flower cluster indicate that this plant is Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea).  Dogwood identification can be tricky, this shrub is one that I had previously identified as a Red-osier.

Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

Wildflowers of 2014 - #81 White Campion (Silene latifolia)

I found White Campion (Silene latifolia) growing in dry soil along the edge of the paved trail through Mill Pond Park.  This is a typical habitat for this non-native plant.  It commonly grows in disturbed sites such as roadsides, fields, shorelines, and the edges of forests.  It may grow as an annual, biennial, or a short-lived perennial.  

White Campion is easily identified by its white flowers with five deeply notched petals and an inflated calyx (bladder) formed by the fused sepals of the flower.  White Campion can be found blooming from Spring through Fall.  The entire plant (stems, leaves, calyx) is covered with dense white-gray hairs. 

White Campione is one of many introduced species that have had a neutral to slightly positive effect on the environment.  It is not part of the original flora of Michigan, but it is not aggressive and doesn't crowd out native species.  It's white flowers typically open in the evening and attract a variety of moth species, especially Sphinx moths.

White Campion (Silene latifolia)

Wildflowers of 2014 - #82 Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis)

Canada Anemone (Anemone candensis) is a flower that I look forward to seeing every year.  I like its deeply lobed leaves and white flowers with yellow centers.  It can be found in moist open areas such as shorelines and woodland openings.  It is found throughout the northern half of the United States and across Canada.

Deeply lobed leaves and white flowers with yellow centers help identify Canada Anemone

Canada Anemone spreads easily by both seeds and horizontal rhizomes, and often forms large colonies.  This tendency to spread gives it an unfair reputation among some native plant gardeners.   A few people will even go so far as to call this plant "invasive".  This an improper use of the term and should never be applied to a native plant.  The plant may be an aggressive grower, but it is not a bully.  It belongs in the landscape. 

Canada Anemone flowers may bloom any time between May and August in Mid-Michigan.

The open flowers of Canada Anemone attract a variety of pollinator species - especially bees.

No comments:

Post a Comment