Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #200 through #205

The late-Summer/Fall wildflowers have begun to bloom.  I missed the start because of my vacation so now I have some catching up to do.  On Friday (15 August 2014) I visited Chipp-A-Waters Park and recorded the following six species.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #200 Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)

When I started this project in April, I was hoping to find 200 species before the end of the growing season.  On August 15th, I found my 200th species - Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata).  It took 127 days to get from Wildflower #1 (Skunk Cabbage) to Wildflower #200.

Wild Cucumber - note the lobed leaves and erect flower spikes

Wild Cucumber is a native vine that can be up to ten feet long.  It either trails or climbs by wrapping tendrils around nearby objects.  The tendrils that allow it to climb emerge from the plant's leaf axils.  The leaves of the plant are arranged alternately along the vine.  Each leaf has five pointed lobes and resembles a maple leaf.

Wild Cucumber leaf - note lobes and toothed margins

The flowers of Wild Cucumber also grow from the leaf axils.  The male (staminate) flowers are arranged on in groups on erect spikes.  The flowers have six white petals.  The female flowers are inconspicuous and grow individually or in small groups.

Wild Cucumber flowers - female (lower left) and male (on spike)

Wild Cucumber grows in moist habitats such as wet woodlands, thickets, and floodplains.  It grows across much of the United States (40 states) and the lower half of Canada.  It can be found in about two-thirds of Michigan's counties and is present in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. 

Wildflowers of 2014 - #201 Narrow-leafed Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

The next flower that I found is one of several species of "Goldenrod" that are currently in bloom in Mid-Michigan - Narrow-leafed Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia).  This species is also known as Grass-leaved Goldenrod due to its narrow leaves or as Flat-topped Goldenrod due to its flat topped flower panicles (branched clusters).

Narrow-leafed Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

Like most species of Goldenrod, Narrow-leafed Goldenrod is a late-Summer/Fall blooming plant with small golden-yellow flowers.  The individual flowers are small, measuring about 1/8th inch across, but the panicles measure several inches across.

Narrow-leafed Goldenrod - a closer view of the flowers

Narrow-leafed Goldenrod prefers moist soils.  It is often found growing intermingled with other Goldenrod species in meadows, along shorelines, in ditches, etc.  It ranges across much of North America.  In Michigan it has been recorded in all but eight counties - interestingly Isabella County is one of those eight counties.

Several years ago Narrow-leafed Goldenrod was reclassified.  It was formerly known as Solidago graminifolia, but has now been placed in a separate genus (Euthamia).

Wildflowers of 2014 - #202 Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

The third wildflower of the day was Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).  Also known as Common Goldenrod, this species is found throughout almost all of the United States and Canada, with the exceptions of Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and Nunavut.  It grows in a variety of open habitats in both wet and dry soil conditions.  This is the species that most people think about when they hear the word goldenrod.

Canada Goldenrod - note one-sided flowering branches and alternate leaves

Canada Goldenrod can reach heights of 1 to 6 1/2 feet.  It has leaves that are arranged alternately along the stem.  The leaves are typically narrow (linear, oval, or elliptic) and may be up to 6 inches long.  The flowers are arranged in a pyramid-shaped panicle (branched cluster) at the top of the plant.  The branches of the panicle curve upward and outward from the stem before then curving downward.  The small (1/8 inch) flowers are arranged in a line on the upper side of the branches.  The panicle may be up to 16 inches tall.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #203 Field Sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis)

The fourth species of the day is one of many species that have flowers resembling those of dandelions.  But unlike dandelion plants, which are low growing, Field Sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis) plants may grow to be 7 feet tall, but are usually 2 1/2 to 3 feet.  This plant is not native to North America but has naturalized across the majority of the United States and Canada.

Field Sow-thistle resembles an overgrown dandelion

Field Sow-thistle has yellow flowers that look like those of dandelions.  The flower heads are 1 1/4 to 2 inches across and are composed entirely of  disc flowers with not rays (petals).  Each flower head is composed of between 150 and 300 individual ray flowers.  The flower heads are arranged in a flat panicle. 

Field Sow-thistle - a closer view of the flower heads

The plant's leaves also look like those of dandelions, but have prickles at the tip of each lobe.  The base of each leaf has a pair of rounded lobes that clasp the plant's stem.  The leaves are normally found only on the lower half of the plant.

Field Sow-thistle - note how leaf margins are edged with prickles and how leaves clasp the stem

Wildflowers of 2014 - #204 Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)

The next species of the day was Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana).  This native vine climbs to a height of 6 to 10 feet.  The leaves on the plant are arranged in alternate pairs.  Each leaf has three pointed oval leaflets with toothed margins and a notched base. 

Virgin's Bower - note serrated margins of leaves

The flowers of Virgin's Bower are white, 3/8 to 5/8 inch across, and grow in flat topped panicles.  Individual plants may have all male (staminate) flowers, all female (pistillate) flowers, or both staminate and pistillate flowers.

Virgin's Bower - this plant contains both male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers

Virgin's Bower typically grows in moist habitats such as floodplains, wet forest edges, swamps, etc.  It is found throughout the eastern half of North America, east of a line running south from Manitoba to eastern Texas.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #205 Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana)

The final flower of the day is another native plant - Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana).  This plant is also known as Virginia Knotweed.  This plant is sometimes listed as Polygonum virginianum.  It is native to the eastern half of the United States and Canada.  Mid-Michigan is at the northern edge of its range.

Jumpseed (Persicaria virginianum) growing next to bridge abutment at Chipp-A-Waters Park

Jumpseed plants grow from 1 to 4 feet tall, with the majority of the height being a flowering raceme (spike).  The leaves of the plant are arranged alternately on the lower part of the plant.  Individual leaves may be 6 inches long and 3 inches wide, oval shaped, with a pointed tip.

Jumpseed - note alternate leaves and flowering raceme

The flowers of Jumpseed are small (1/8 inch).  The flowers are white or whitish-green (rarely pink) and have four pointed petals.  There is normally only one flowering spike per plant but that spike may branch.

Jumpseed - a closer view of the flowering raceme showing an individual flower with its four petals

This plant is named Jumpseed because when ripe the plant's seeds may be propelled up to 10 feet away from the parent plant when disturbed. (Another plant that can propel its seeds is the Spotted Touch-me-not.)

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