Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #83 through #98

It's time to get caught up on wildflowers that I have found in the past five days. 

The next five species were found on Thursday May 29th.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #83 Feathery False Solomon's Seal (Mainthemum racemosum)

Earlier in the list I showed at #44 I shared  Star-flowered False Solomon's Seal (Maianthenum stellatum).  Number Eighty-four is its close relative Feathery False Solomon's Seal (Mainthemum racemosum).  While Star-flowered False Solomon's Seal has only a few large flowers (measuring 1/3 inch across), Feathery False Solomon's Seal has many small flowers (1/8 inch) arranged in a spike or raceme at the end of the stalk.  The feathery appearance of the flowers has also given the plant the alternate name of Solomon's Plume.

Feathery False Solomon's Seal (Maianthenum stellatum)
Feathery False Solomon's Seal grows between 1 and 3 feet tall.  The stem forms a gentle arc, bending down under its own weight and then rising again at the flower.

The stalk of Feathery False Solomon's Seal arcs gently before bending curving upward at the bloom

Feathery False Solomon's Seal prefers moist soils and shade, but it will also grow in drier open locations.  These photos were taken in a section of woods dominated by American Beech and Sugar Maple at Chipp-A-Waters Park.

Feathery False Solomon's Seal - not zig-zagging stem and alternate leaves

Feathery False Solomon's Seal - note the plume of small white flowers

Wildflowers of 2014 - #84 Indian Strawberry (Potentilla indica)

Also found at Chipp-A-Waters park was Indian Strawberry (Potentilla indica - also known as Duchesnea indica).  This non-native plant is originally from South and East Asia.  The "Indian" part of its name refers to the nation of India.

The three-lobed leaves bear a resemblance to those of native and domestic strawberry plants, but Indian Strawberry has yellow flowers instead of white.  It does produce a small red fruit.  While the fruits of Wild Strawberry (#47) and Woodland Strawberry (#32) are both sweet and juice, the fruit of Indian Strawberry is dry and bland.

The leaves resemble those of Wild and Woodland Strawberry, but the yellow flower identifies this as Indian Strawberry

Indian Strawberry - a closer view of the five notched petals

Wildflowers of 2014 - #85 Common Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)

The third flower of the day was found at Mill Pond Park.  Common Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus) is a native plant with composite flowers.  This means its "flowers" are made up of many smaller flowers clustered together in a disc, while what appear to be petals are actually individual flowers called ray flowers.
While there are seven Erigeron species in Michigan, Common Fleabane can be distinguished from other species by the number of rays on the flower (150 - 400) and the leaves which clasp the stem.

As its name implies Common Fleabane is "common".  It can be found in 46 states (not Utah, Arizona, Alaska, or Hawaii) and most of Canada (except Nunavut and Labrador).  In Michigan it is listed in all but eleven counties.  I suspect that it is found in those counties but no herbarium specimens have been collected.

Common Fleabane - note how the leaves clasp the stem

Common Fleabane blooms may have 150 to 400 rays - more than other Fleabane species
Wildflowers of 2014 - #86 Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

After spending part of the afternoon at Mill Pond Park, I returned to Chipp-A-Waters Park to look for several more species of flowers.  While I did not find the flowers that I was searching for I found this tree in bloom - Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina).  This is the second Cherry on the list - Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana) was #58.  Wild Black Cherry may grow as a shrub, but is more often found as a canopy tree.  While both Choke Cherry and Wild Black Cherry both have drooping elongated clusters of white flower, the two species can be easily separated by their leaves.  The leaves of Choke Cherry have serrations with sharply pointed teeth; the serrated leaves of Wild Black Cherry have teeth that are rounded off.

Wild Black Cherry blooms

Wild Black Cherry - note how the serrated leaves have rounded teeth

Wildflowers of 2014 - #87 Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)

The next flower from Chipp-A-Waters Park was Black Medick (Medicago lupulina).  This plant was introduced from Eurasia to all 50 states and all Canadian provinces and territories except Yukon, Nunavut, and Labrador.  Black Meddick is often found as a weed in lawns and fields, along roadsides, and in other disturbed spaces.  It has small yellow flowers in the form of a globe or cylinder.  The plant can grow to nearly 3 feet, but is frequently much smaller.

Black Medick is often found as a weed in lawns and fields.

Small yellow flowers and clover-like leaves of Black Medick

Starting with the #89, the next eleven species were found on Sunday June 1st.  The first four species were found at Mission Creek Woodland Park.  Numbers 93 - 96 were photographed at Mill Pond Park.  The final three species were found at Chipp-A-Waters Park.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #88 Fistulous Goat's Beard (Tragopogon dubius)

Fistulous Goat's Beard (Tragopogon dubius) is a non-native composite flower - composed of central disc flowers surrounded by ray flowers.  It is one of two species of Goat's Beard that can be found in Michigan, the other being Showy goat's Beard (T. pratensis).  Both plant can grow to nearly three feet in height and have grass-like leaves.  Fistulous Goat's Beard can be identified by its stalk which expands below the flower head and by the long bracts which extend beyond the ray flowers.  both species can be found in open dry habitats such as field and roadsides.  These flowers often close up before mid-day.  The seed heads of Goat's Beard look like large Dandelion seed heads.

Fistulous Goat's Beard - note the pointed bracts extending beyond the flower head

Fistulous Goat's Beard - note how the stalk swells beneath the bloom

Fistulous Goat's Beard blooms are a composite made of ray flowers surrounding a circle of disc flowers

Wildflowers of 2014 - #89 Garden Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

The next plant is another non-native.  Garden Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) spreads from cultivation when its red berries are eaten by birds and other animals and the seeds are dropped in their dung.  It is often found near old cultivated patches.  I found these plants at Mission Creek Park.  According to several people that I know, Asparagus was once cultivated in the field near the park.  I have also found a patch of Asparagus growing at Mill Pond Park.

Stalks from wild patches of Garden Asparagus may be eaten just like those from cultivated plants.

Garden Asparagus - small yellow-green flowers dangle from the stalks

Garden Asparagus - a closer view of the bell-shaped, yellow-green flowers.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #90 Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

Many states and government agencies used to encourage the planting of Autumn Olive (Eleagnus umbellata) for erosion control and wildlife habitat.  Now it is considered an invasive species that can quickly crowd out native plants.  It spreads when birds consume its fruit and is very hard to eradicate.

The fragrant blooms of invasive Autumn Olive attract many species of pollinators

Wildflowers of 2014 - #91 Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)

In early Spring, one of my favorite places is the is the swamp areas of Mission Creek Park.  It is the site of some of the earliest blooming wildflowers such as Skunk Cabbage (#1).  However, as the weather warms, these swamps become less pleasant due to the abundance of mosquitoes.

Even with the irritation provided by insect bites, I can still find reasons to search these swamps for plants like this one - Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea).  Golden Ragwort can be identified by its small  yellow flowers (1/2 -3/4 inch wide), heart shaped basal leaves, and lobed upper leaves.  It prefers the wet soils found in floodplains, hardwood and conifer swamps, and other shallow-water wetland habitats.

Golden Ragwort -surrounded by Skunk Cabbage, Horsetail, Virginia Creeper, and ferns

Golden Ragwort prefers moist rich soils such as those found in swamps.

Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)

Golden Ragwort - note the yellow flowers and lobed upper leaves

Wildflowers of 2014 - #92 Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)

After giving a donation of blood to the mosquitoes at Mission Creek I headed to Mill Pond Park.  The first flower that found was Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago).  This native shrub/understory tree  typically reaches a height of 10 to 25 feet.  Its large rounded clusters of white flowers are followed by edible blue-black berries that ripen from August to September.  Look for Nannyberry in rich damp soils .

Nannyberry may grow as either a shrub or a small tree.

Nannyberry - note the round-topped flower clusters

Nannyberry leaves have sharply toothed serrations - the similar Wild Raisin (V. cassinoides) has serrations with rounded teeth

Wildflowers of 2014 - #93 Forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides)

The next species that I found was the non-native Forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides).  This garden escapee is frequently found in wetlands throughout Michigan.  Because Forget-me-not spreads so easily it is considered an invasive species by several states.  There are two native Forget-me-not species in Michigan - both species have a limited range in the state.

Forget-me-not can be identified by its pale blue flowers with yellow centers.

Forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides)

Forget-me-not can identified by its pale blue flowers with yellow centers

Wildflowers of 2014 - #94 Southern Blue Flag Iris (Iris virginica)

The next flower is one of three Iris species that are native to Michigan.  Two of them can potentially be found in Mid-Michigan: Northern Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor) and this species Southern Blue Flag Iris (Iris virginica).  The third species, Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris), is only found along the northern shores of  Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

It can be difficult to distinguish between Northern and Southern Blue Flag - especially since many references give conflicting information on the two species.  I have identified these as Southern Blue Flag based on a couple of features that most sources agree upon:  first, the flower stalks are shorter than the leaves instead of being taller as in Northern Blue Flag; second, the sepals have a bright yellow spot on them versus the yellow-green spot that most sources cite for the Northern Blue Flag.

I suspect that both Southern and Northern Blue Flag can be found in Mt. Pleasant.  I will have to examine several more colonies of Iris plants to see it I can notice any differences.  To complicate matters, the two species have been known to hybridize.

Southern Blue Flag Iris flower stalks are typically shorter than their leaves

Southern Blue Flag Iris - note the bright yellow spots on the sepals

Southern Blue Flag Iris is typically paler than Northern Blue Flag

Southern Blue Flag Iris (Iris virginica)

Wildflowers of 2014 - #95 White Clover (Trifolium repens)

Although it is not native, White Clover (Trifolium repens) is found throughout North America.  Although originally introduced as a forage crop, it is now also commonly found in lawns and roadsides.  As the name Trifolium indicates, the plant typically has leaves with three lobes.  Its white flowers grow in round heads.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #96 Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

I found the next flower growing along the edge of an open field.  This is typical habitat for Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis).  It can also be found in openings in woodlands, along fencerows, and in any other space where birds may drop its seeds.  Black Raspberry can be distinguished from Common Blackberry (R allegheniensis) by its flowers which have sepals as long or longer than itsa petals.  Common Blackberry flowers have short sepals.  It can be distinguished from Wild Red Raspberry (R. strigosus) by the color of its fruit - I had previously identified this group of plants as Black Raspberry.

Black Raspberry adapts to a variety of conditions

The sepals of Black Raspberry flowers are longer than their petals.

Black Raspberry pollinators include ants.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #97 Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

The next wildflower is one that is listed by the State of Michigan as a Species of Special Concern.  Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium) can be found in moist forests and floodplains throughout southern Michigan.  With its large arching compound leaf and strange looking flower, Green Dragon would not look out of place in a tropical habitat.

A profile of this species can be found here.

Green Dragon surrounded by Indian Strawberry (#85)

Green Dragon - the pale green spadix rises out of the spathe and curves upward

Green Dragon flower - a closer view

Wildflowers of 2014 - #98 Yellow Pond-lily (Nuphar variegata)

Wildflower Number Ninety-eight for the year is the Yellow Pond-lily (Nuphar variegata).  This is not a very good photo.  I took this picture from a distance with a telephoto lens.  I was not expecting to see this flower so I did not have my waders with me - I plan on going back later this week for closer photos.

Yellow Pond-lilies in an oxbow pond

No comments:

Post a Comment