Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #140 through #150

Doing a "Big Year" of wildflowers is something that I have been thinking of for several years.  I have been keeping a list and photographing flowers since 2002 when I started working in Mt. Pleasant.  Finally, this past winter I decided that 2014 was going to be the year.

The long cold winter and late start to spring had me worried about how many species I would be able to find.  I did not find my first wildflower until April 10th - Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).

It took me forty-one days to find the first fifty flowers - #50 Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata) was found on May 20th.

After that it only took fourteen days to find the next fifty species.  Wildflower #100 Common Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) was found on June 3rd.

On Sunday (June 22nd), I found species #150 for the year.  This was nineteen days since I hit #100 for the year.

Here are the species that I found on Sunday.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #140 White Avens (Geum canadense)

My day began at Mission Creek Park.  Often I go to a park with a plan to search for a specific flower.  this time I had no clearcut goals, but just planned to walk along the trails and see what could be found.  The first flower was growing directly along what the city's maps refer to as the Creek Trail (West) - see link above for a map of the park's trails.  White Avens (Geum canadense) is a native 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 (Geum canadense)

White Avens can be identified by its basal leaves which are split into three leaflets.  Plants also 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 a White Avens growing in my garden at home that I only notice once it grows over the top of the surrounding strawberries.

White Avens - note the leaves with three lobes

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.

White Avens - note three-lobed leaves and white flowers

A closer view of White Avens flowers - note the five white petals and green sepals

Wildflowers of 2014 - #141 Wild Rose (Rosa blanda)

The next flower was also found at Mission Creek Woodland Park along the same trail where it descends from the uplands into the floodplain for Mission Creek.  Growing on this slope is patch of Wild Rose (Rosa Blanda).  Also known as Smooth Rose or Smooth Wild Rose, this native rose has 1 to a few pink (or rose) blooms growing on the ends of new stems.  The flowers are approximately 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches across and have five petals.

Wild (Smooth) Rose - note the five pink petals

The leaves of this species have between 5 and nine leaflets (typically 7).  There are a pair of "wings" attached at the base of each leaf.  Leaves grow alternately.

Wild (Smooth) Rose - note thornless stems and leaves with 5-9 leaflets

New brambles have no thorns and old brambles may have only a few thorns on their lower parts - resulting in the name Smooth Rose.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #142 Northern Bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)

Growing directly across the trail from the Wild Rose was the next flower - Northern Bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera).  While people are probably most familiar with introduced species of Honeysuckle there are seven native species that can be found in Michigan.  Bush-honeysuckle is the only one in the Diervilla genus; all of the remaining species are in the Lonicera genus (the same genus as the exotic species that are found in the state).

Northern Bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)

Northern Bush-honeysuckle is a low growing shrub (6 to 36 inches tall) with oblong shaped leaves with pointed tips and finely toothed margins.  The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs along the round woody stems.  This is the only honeysuckle with toothed leaves.

Northern Bush-honeysuckle - not the opposite toothed leaves

The flowers of Northern Bush-honeysuckle are funnel shaped with five petals.  The petals curl backwards revealing the flower's pistil and stamen.  The flowers are are a pale lemon yellow color, but after pollination fade to a darker yellow-orange or red color.  The flowers are pollinated by bees.

Northern Bush-honeysuckle flowers - note the funnel shape and curled back petals

Northern Bush-honeysuckle typically grows in dry rocky soils.  It is found in woodlands throughout eastern North America as far west as Saskatchewan and as far south as the Appalachians of northern Georgia and Alabama.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #143 Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina)

The final flower from Mission Creek Park was Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina).  This is the third Dogwood species on the list - #80 Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) and #108 Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum) were the other two species.

Gray Dogwood (arching from left) growing in a hardwood swamp

Gray Dogwood can be easily distinguished from the other two species by the shape of its flower clusters.  While both Red-osier and Silky Dogwood have flat-topped flower clusters, those of Gray Dogwood are pyramid shaped or have a rounded top.  All three species have opposite leaves.  For more information on dogwood identification please see this post.

Gray Dogwood - note the rounded flower clusters

Gray Dogwood leaves

Gray Dogwood can be found throughout eastern North America and grows in both wet and dry soils.  It can reach a height of 15 feet.

The next six flowers were all found at Chipp-A-Waters Park.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #144 Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

The first species that I found at Chipp-A-Waters Park was Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).  The small whitish-green flowers dangle is elongated clusters.  When they fruit, they look like bunches of very small white grapes.

Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) leaves and flowers

Eastern Poison Ivy - a closer view of the small greenish-white flowers

I have written a lot in the past about how to identify Poison Ivy.  For more information look here.  The main points to remember are three glossy leaflets, with smooth or margins or a few teeth, on reddish stems.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #145 Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

I found the next species growing along the margins of a small pond at Chipp-A-Waters Park.  Common-Cattail (Typha latifolia) is one of two cattail species that can be found in Michigan - Narrow-leafed Cattail (T. angustifolia) was listed at #134.  Common Cattail is native to Michigan, while there is debate about whether Narrow-leafed Cattail is native or non-native to the state.  Common Cattail can be found in wetlands throughout North America (with the exceptions of Nunavut and Labrador).

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Although Common Cattail typically has wider leaves than Narrow-leafed Cattail, there can be some overlap in leaf width so this is not always a reliable species indicator.  Fortunately it is easy to distinguish between the two species when they are flowering.  The "cattails" that we see are actually the flowers and seed heads of the plant.  Each flower has two parts: a male part that produces pollen and a female part that produces seeds.  The male part of the flower is always above the female part on the stem.  On the Narrow-leafed Cattail there is a gap separating the two parts of the flower.  On the Common Cattail the two parts of the flower are touching.

Common Cattail - the "cat tail" is actually the plant's flower

Another Common Cattail flower - note how the male and female halves of the flower touch

For more on cattail identification look at this post from January 2013.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #146 Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

Flower #146 was growing on a bank along the trail.  Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) is one of six Bindweed species that can be found in Michigan - a seventh species Macoun's Bindweed (C. macounii) was collected on time in the 1930s.  Of those seven species only three are native to Michigan including Hedge Bindweed.

Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) growing in a mound on other vegetation

The flowers of Hedge Bindweed are trumpet shaped and have five petals.  The flowers can grow up to 2 3/4 inches across.  Flowers may be white or pink and bloom between May and September.

Hedge Bindweed flower - note the trumpet shape

A small native bee collects pollen at a Hedge Bindweed

Like most of the other Bindweed species, Hedge Bindweed either trails along the ground our uses its stems to twin up surrounding vegetation.  It can be distinguished from all of the other Michigan Bindweed species by the shape of its leaves.  Hedge Bindweed has arrow-head shaped leaves with a sharp tip and blunt rear points (basal lobes).  The leaves may be 2-5 inches long.

Hedge Bindweed - note arrowhead shape of leaves and twining stem

Hedge Bindweed grows in a variety of sunny habitats in both wet and dry soil.  In Michigan it is found throughout the southern half of the Lower Peninsula and along the shores of both Lakes Huron and Michigan and in scattered locations throughout the Upper Peninsula.  Overall, the plant can be found throughout North America with the exception of the Canadian Arctic.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #147 Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

The next flower found 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.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) - note pointed leaves and flowers growing in leaf axils

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 - a closer view of the flowers

Wildflowers of 2014 - #148 Common Enchanter's-nightshade (Circaea canadensis)

When I think of woodland wildflowers, I typically think of plants that bloom early in the Spring and disappear once the overhead canopy has fully leafed out.  Common Enchanter's-nightshade (Circaea canadensis) is an exception.  It is a woodland wildflower that blooms in Mid-Summer. 

Common Enchanter's-nightshade is a summer blooming woodland wildflower
Also known as Circaea lutetiana ssp. canadensis, Common Enchanter's-nightshade has small white flowers that grow on a branched spike which rises above the plants leaves.  The flowers are unusual because they only have two petals and two sepals.  The leaves of Common Enchanter's-nightshade  are oblong or oval with pointed tips and margins with shallow teeth.

Common Enchanter's-nightshade - note opposite pairs of leaves and small white flowers

Although it is most common in the deciduous woodlands of the Great Lakes and Northeast, Common Enchanter's-nightshade can be found as far west as Wyoming and as far south as Louisiana.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #149 Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Unlike #146 Hedge Bindweed, Field Bindweed (Convolvulus  arvensis) is non-native.  It is a trailing or twining vine with trumpet shaped white or pink flowers.  It is similar in appearance to Hedge Bindweed, but the leaves (1-2 inches) and flowers (less than 1 inch wide) are both much smaller.

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Wildflowers of 2014 - #150 Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

The final wildflower of the day and #150 for the year was found growing at Mill-Pond Park. Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense), despite its name, is a weedy species introduced from Europe to North America sometime before 1800.  It is also known as Field Thistle. 

Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense) - note blueish flowers and spiny leaves
This species of thistle has blueish flowers arranged in flat-topped clusters.  The stems of this plant do not have spines but the the edges of the lobed leaves are tipped with spines. 

Canada Thistle - a closer view of the flowers

Unlike most other thistles, this species is a perennial and can spread both by seed and by rhizomes.  It can form dense colonies - in Europe it is known as Creeping Thistle because of this tendency for colonies to expand from their roots.

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