Wildflowers of 2014 - #168 Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)
The first species of the day was a small introduced wildflower called Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria). I have seen Deptford Pink numerous times over the past decade, but never in large quantities. A native of Europe, this plant is an annual (or biennial) that grows best in disturbed soils. It spreads by seed and does not compete well against other plants. As a landscape evolves, Deptford Pink populations may appear for several years and then disappear entirely. It is also easy to overlook this plant unless it is flowering.
|Deptford Pink growing in a grassy field|
Deptford Pinks are very easy to identify when flowering. Even though the flowers are small (1/3 inch across) they are very distinctive. Each flower has five pink petals with a toothed outer edge. The petals are covered with small white dots. Flowers grow in one or more v-shaped clusters at the top of each plant.
|Deptford Pink - note dotted pink petals|
Deptford Pink plants grow from 1 to 2 1/2 feet tall. They have both basal and stem leaves. The basal leaves are narrow oval shapes; stem leaves are grass-like measuring 1/8 inch across and up to 3 inches long. Leaves are arranged in opposite pairs.
Wildflowers of 2014 - #169 Common Mullein (Verbascum thaspus)
While Deptford Pink is very inconspicuous, the next flower is anything but. Growing up to 7 feet tall, Common Mullein (Verbascum thaspus) has a flowering stalk up to 2 feet long and leaves that can be 4 inches wide and 12 inches long.
|Common Mullein (Verbascum thaspus) - note large grey-green leaves and yellow flowering spike|
Also known as Flannel Plant, Common Mullein is a biennial plant. In its first year, it produces a cluster of fuzzy grey-green leaves 1 to 2 feet across. These leaves will stay green throughout the winter. During the plant's second growing season it will send up a single stalk - this stalk rarely branches. The lower part of the stalk with be covered alternate leaves that get smaller higher up the stalk. The upper part of the stalk will grow into a dense spike of yellow flowers. Flowers have have five pale yellow petals and are 1/2 to 1 inch across. Only a small percentage of flowers on as spike will be in bloom at any one time. The dried flower spikes often remain through the winter.
|Common Mullein - a closer view of the flowering spike|
Common Mullein likes dry habitats such as fields and roadsides. It has naturalized across most of North America with the exception of the Canadian Arctic territories.
Wildflowers of 2014 - #170 Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)
The third flower species was the only native species of the day - Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium). Like the previous two species, I found this one growing in an open dry area as is typical of the species.
Spreading Dogbane can grow up to three feet tall. The plant's leaves are oval-shaped and measure 1 to 3 inches long. These leaves display prominent light colored veins. Leaves are arranged in pairs that droop off of the plant's branching stem.
|Spreading Dogbane - note nodding leaves with prominent veins|
Flowers of Common Dogbane arranged in flat topped clusters at end of the plant's stem s. Individual flowers are 1/4 to 3/8 inches across, white or pink colored, and have five petals that either spread wide or curl backward. Like the plant's leaves, the flowers nod or droop slightly.
|Spreading Dogbane - note the loose cluster of nodding white flowers|
|A closer view of Spreading Dogbane flowers - note the 5 recurved petals|
Spreading Dogbane is one of only two Apocynum species; the other being Common Dogbane or Indian Hemp (A. Cannabinum) - the two species hybridize as a variety known as Apocynum X floribundum. Both species and the hybrid can be found across most of North America.
Wildflowers of 2014 - #171 Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)
Also known as Queen Anne's Lace, Wild Carrot (Daucus Carota) is a biennial plant that during its first year produces a basal cluster of leaves. In its second year the plant "bolts" or goes to seed, first producing a flat cluster (umbel) of small white flowers. This umbel may be up to 10 inches across. The center of the umbel often contains a single, sterile, purple floret. This floret is not always present, but in combination with a "carrot" smell, it makes this plant easy to identify.
|Wild Carrot growing in rock along a paved trail|
|Wild Carrot - note flat-topped umbel of small florets|
|A closer view of the Wild Carrot - note purple floret in center of bloom|
A native of Eurasia, Wild Carrot can be found across most of North America with the exception of the arctic and subarctic.