Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #110 through #119

Still catching up on the wildflower list...

On Sunday June 8th, I took a walk around several of the parks in Mt. Pleasant to search for more flowers to add to the 2014 list.  My first stop was Mission Creek Woodland Park.  I like this park for the diverse range of habitats that it provides - woodlands (mature and young Sugar Maple/Beech Forest), wetlands  (Cedar Swamp and Red Maple Swamp), brush, dry lawns, etc.  This park will soon be changing when portions of the brushy areas are cleared to make way for a dog park - I do not think that the addition of this feature will have a positive impact on the flora and fauna in the park.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #110 Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

The first species that I found at Mission Creek was on with a circumpolar distribution - this means it is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere in both North America and Eurasia.  Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) can be found in every single American state and Canadian province.  Some of the plants are native, some of the plants are introductions from Eurasia, and some are hybrids that contain genes from both.  Yarrow easily grows in almost any type of habitat but is most common in Mid-Michigan in dry habitats like roadsides and old fields.  Common Yarrow can be easily identified by its flat-topped flower clusters made up of many small (1/4 inch) white flowers and also by its feathery leaves.

Common Yarrow growing in dry soil along the edge of a woodland

Common Yarrow - note the flat cluster of small white flowers and the feathery leaves

Wildflowers of 2014 - #111 Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis)

The next flower was found growing in moist soil along edge of the cedar swamp that borders Mission Creek.  Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis) is found in moist to dry shaded habitats across eastern North America.  The plant can be identified by its small white flowers and leaves with three deeply divided lobes and serrated margins.  Honewort is also known as Wild Chervil.

Honewort - note the three part leaves and small white flowers

Wildflowers of 2014 - #112 Northern Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

A few short yards from the Honewort was the next plant - Northern Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor).  This is the second Iris species on the list; Southern Blue Flag (I. virginica) was listed at #94.

I identified these flowers as Northern Blue Flag based on the following: the yellow-green spot at the base of the sepal, dark prominent veins, and purple color at base of plants (Iris virginica typically has brown base according to Michigan Flora).  The flower stalks are also significantly taller than those that identified as Southern Blue Flag.

A colony of Northern Blue Flag Iris

Northern Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

Northern Blue Flag is generally more colorful than Southern Blue Flag

Northern Blue Flag - note prominent veins on sepals and yellow-green spot at base of sepals

 Northern Blue Flag Iris - note the purple blush at the base of the stalk

Wildflowers of 2014 - #113 Running Strawberry Bush (Euonymus obovatus)

Most of the flowers that I have found this year are ones that I could easily identify.  Some of them I could narrow down to genus or family which made identification easier.  This one stumped me for nearly two days -  I searched through all of my wildflower books and could not find any small flower that looked like this one.

This flower had me puzzled.

I finally identified it by dumb luck.  I was looking at information on the Winged Euonymus (#101) on the Michigan Flora website.  I noticed that there were four additional Euonymus species listed for the state.  When I look up a species on this site, I often look at the other related species to be sure of my identification.  At the very bottom of the list was Running Strawberry Bush (Euonymus obovatus).

This was my mystery plant.  If this plant had been larger, identification might have been easier.  Running Strawberry Bush typically grows as a small shrub - the plants that I found were small examples that did not look like shrubs.

Running Strawberry Bush can be identified by its opposite leaves with finely serrated margins and small greenish-purple flowers with five petals, a green center, and five short bright yellow stamen.  The flowers originate in the leaf axils (the point where the leaf joins the stem).

Mid-Michigan is the very northern limit of this species range - there are no herbarium records listed north of Isabella County.  Running Strawberry Bush can be found growing only in high quality wooded habitats.

Running Strawberry Bush - note the opposite leaves and five-petaled greenish-purple flowers.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #114 Black Snakeroot (Sanicula odorata)

While I found only a couple examples of Running Strawberry Bush, I found a profusion of Common Black Snakeroot (Sanicula odorata).  There were hundred, possibly thousands, of these plants lining the trail along Mission Creek.  There are four Sanicula species found in Michigan, but this is the only one with yellow-green flowers.  (The other species have whitish-green blooms.)  Each globe-shaped flower cluster is small, measuring about 1/2 inch across.  The flowers grow in clusters of one to five from the leaf axils and at the upper part of stems.

Another feature that can be used to identify this plant is the deeply lobed leaves with either five parts (low on the plant) or three (higher on the plant) 

Wildflowers of 2014 - # 115 Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)

Flower #115 was one that I have been seeking for several weeks.  To the best of my knowledge there is only one population of Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) growing in any of the Mt. Pleasant parks.  After much searching I was able to find less than ten widely scattered plants along the northern edge of the Red Maple swamp at Mission Creek.  There may be more plants deeper in the swamp, but I did not search any further on this date.

Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)

Virginia Waterleaf can be identified by its leaves with five lobes and it white to violet colored flowers.  The flowers grow in a cluster (cyme) at the end of the stem.  Individual flowers are up to 1/2 inch long and have five short petals with stamen that extend beyond the petals.

For more information on Virgina Waterleaf, please see this profile from June 2013.

Virginia Waterleaf - note the five-lobed leaves and whitish flowers

A closer view of the flowers showing the stamen extending well beyond the five short petals

Wildflowers of 2014 - #116  Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa)

The next flower is a non-native species - Hairy Vetch (Vicia cracca). This plant was probably introduced  to North America as a forage crop. Hairy Vetch usually has purple flowers, but is occasionally found with white or pink blooms.  All parts of this plant (stems, leaves, flowers) are covered with long dense hairs.  This plant grows as either an annual or biennial vine and may grow up to 3 foot in length.  It is usually found in open dry habitats.

Hairy Vetch growing in dry disturbed soil

Hairy vetch - note the purple flowers, compound leaves, and climbing tendrils

Wildflowers of 2014 - #117 Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

The next flower is another introduced species - Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare).  This native of Eurasia can be found in every American state and all Canadian provinces and territories (with the exception of Nunavut).  Ox-eye Daisy can be found throughout most of Michigan growing in dry soils such as roadsides, fields, shorelines, and forest edges and clearings.  It rarely grows in wetlands.  The species is considered a noxious weed by several states.

Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

Ox-eye Daisy has the classic Daisy look with a yellow disc surrounded by 15 to 40 rays.  Each flower may be up to 2 inches across.  Plants may grow up to three foot tall.

The classic Daisy look - a yellow disc surrounded by white rays

Wildflowers of 2014 - #118 English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

The third non-native plant is a row is English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata).  It has naturalized throughout most of North America with the exception of the Canadian Arctic.  English Plantain commonly grows in lawns, fields, along roadsides, forest clearings, cracks in concrete, and any other area where dry disturbed soil can be found. 

Identification of this plant is easy.  Look for a round basal cluster of long narrow lanceolate (shaped like a lance head) leaves that can be up to 10 inches long and 3/4 inch wide.  Growing from the center of this basal rosette will be one or more flowering stalks. 

English Plantain - note the basal rosette of leaves and elongated flower stalks

Each narrow stalk will be topped by a single flower head that looks like the short fuzzy "spike" formed when a deer begins to grow antlers - giving this plant another one of its common names, "Buckhorn".  The flowers are densely packed along this cylindrical spike and are grey-green in color.  The flowers bloom in succession from the bottom of the spike to the top.  As each flower blooms it will extend long white stamen outward from the spike.  English Plantain is wind pollinated and attracts few pollinators.

"Buckhorn" or English Plantain flower spikes - note the stamen extending out from the densely packed flowers

Wildflowers of 2014 - #119 Mossy Stonecrop (Sedum acre)

The final flower of the day from Mission Creek Woodland Park was another introduced species - Mossy Stonecrop (Sedum acre).  This is yet another non-native species that does well in dry disturbed sites such as lawns, roadsides, and shorelines.  Mossy Stonecrop forms dense colonies of 2-4 inch tall plants.  Plants are topped with bright yellow flowers that resemble a five-pointed star.

Mossy Stonecrop - note the bright yellow flowers with five petals

The Sunday June 8th trip to Mission Creek brought the year total to 119 species.  After leaving Mission Creek, I found an addition five new flowers in bloom at Chipp-A-Waters Park.  Those flowers will be shown in the next post.

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