Friday, October 31, 2014

Creatures of Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is a great time to celebrate all creatures that can seem creepy, spooky, or icky.

Like Spiders,






and Crows!

As a bonus how about a deadly plant (Bittersweet Nightshade)

and a poisonous Amanita mushroom!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Photos (29 OCT 2014)

This morning I had a little bit of free time.  While I spent lots of time over the past few months taking photographs, rarely has it been done without a plan.  I decided to go to Mill Pond Park in Mt. Pleasnt and wander around the trails for an hour or so. 

Joe-pye Weed in silhouette

Red Oak leaf amid maple leaves

American Bladdernut seed pods

American Bladdernut

American Beech

Mallard drake and hen

Overlooking the cattail march

Man-made pond at Mill Pond Park

Cattail seeds

Cattails and Poplar

Poplar leaves

Pawpaw sapling

Pawpaw and maple leaves


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - The Complete (and Final) List

It appears that my Big Year of Wildflowers has reached an end.

Earlier this Spring, I started making a list of (and photographing)  all the wildflowers I could find in one growing season.  Here are the rules that I gave myself for this self-imposed challenge.

  •  Any native or non-native plant (including trees) can be photographed if it meets two conditions
    • It must be growing in a wild population - it cannot be in a location where it was planted.
    • It must be growing in one of the parks or other city properties within the city of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
  • I have to photograph the plant on the day I first find the flower - but I can photograph any flower of the species that I find on that day.
  • I have to be able to identify the species for it to count - unknown specimens do not count.
In total, I found 238 wildflower species during the 2014 growing season.  My first flower was found on 10 April (the 100th day of the year) and my final flower was found on 14 October (the 287th day of the year).   I averaged 1.27 new species per day over the course of 187 days.  Of the 238 total species, 168 (70.6%) have been native and 70 species (29.4%) have been introduced to Michigan. 

Here is my complete list for the year. 

Thursday 10 April 2014
     #1  Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

 Monday 14 April 2014
     #2  Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
     #3  Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)

Wednesday 16 April 2014
     #4  Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Monday 21 April 2014
     #5  Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
     #6  Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
     #7  Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)

Tuesday 22 April 2014
     #8  Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
     #9  Speckled Alder (Alnus rugosa)

Thursday 24 April 2014
     #10  Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Tuesday 29 April 2014
     #11  Boxelder (Acer negundo)
     #12  Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)
     #13  Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
     #14  Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

Thursday 01 May 2014
     #15  Field Penny-cress (Thlaspi arvense)     NON-NATIVE
     #16  Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
     #17  Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
     #18  Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officianale)     NON-NATIVE

Monday 05 May 2014
     #19  Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
     #20  Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
     #21  Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis)

Tuesday 06 May 2014
     #22  False Rue Anemone (Enemion biternatum)
     #23  White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidinum)

 Sunday 11 May 2014
     #24  Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia)
     #25  Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
     #26  Spring Cress (Cardamine bulbosa)
     #27  American Dog Violet (Viola labradorica)
     #28  Swamp Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus)
     #29  Downy Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens)
     #30  Two-leaf Mitrewort (Mitella diphylla)
     #31  Mouse-ear Chickweed (Cerastium fontanum)     NON-NATIVE
     #32  Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
     #33  Garlic Mustard (Alliara petiolata)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)

Tuesday 13 May 2014
     #34 Broad-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla)
     #35 Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
     #36 American Black Currant (Ribes americanum)
     #37 Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)     NON-NATIVE
     #38 Mouse-ear Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana)     NON-NATIVE
     #39 Common Winter-cress (Barbarea vulgaris)     NON-NATIVE
     #40 Hoary Alyssum (Berteroa incana)     NON-NATIVE
     #41 Field Peppergrass (Lepidium campestre)     NON-NATIVE
     #42 Creamy Violet (Viola striata)

 Sunday 18 May 2014
     #43 Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
     #44 Star-flowered False Solomon's Seal (Maianthenum stellatum)
     #45 Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor)      NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)

Tuesday 20 May 2014
     #46 Common Yellow Wood-sorrel (Oxalis stricta)
     #47 Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
     #48 Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum)
     #49 Early Meadow-rue (Thalictrum dioicum)
     #50 Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
     #51 Small-flowered Buttercup (Ranunculus arbortivus)
     #52 Downy Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum pubescens)
     #53 Small Pussytoes (Antennaria howellii)
     #54 American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)
     #55 Purple Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)     NON-NATIVE     

Wednesday 21 May 2014
     #56 Horse-gentian (Triosteum aurantiacum)
     #57 Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
     #58 Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)
     #59 Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
     #60 Morrow's Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
     #61 White Oak (Quercus alba)
     #62 Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)    

Friday 23 May 2014
     #63 Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia)     NON-NATIVE
     #64 American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia)

Monday 26 May 2014

     #65 Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
     #66 Common Apple (Malus pumila)    NON-NATIVE
     #67 Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
     #68 Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)
     #69 Cleavers (Galium aparine)
     #70 Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
     #71 Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
     #72 Pennsylvania Bitter Cress (Cardamine pensylvanica)
     #73 White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda)
     #74 Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)
     #75 Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

Monday 26 May 2014 (Part 2)
     #76 Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana)     NON-NATIVE
     #77 Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
     #78 Upright Carrion-flower (Smilax ecirrata)
     #79 Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
     #80 Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
     #81 White Campion (Silene latifolia)     NON-NATIVE
     #82 Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis)
Thursday 29 May 2014
     #83 Feathery False Solomon's Seal (Mainthemum racemosum)
     #84 Indian Strawberry (Potentilla indica)     NON-NATIVE
     #85 Common Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)
     #86 Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
     #87 Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)     NON-NATIVE

Sunday 01 June 2014
     #88 Fistulous Goat's Beard (Tragopogon dubius)     NON-NATIVE
     #89 Garden Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)     NON-NATIVE
     #90 Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
     #91 Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)
     #92 Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)
     #93 Forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides)    NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
     #94 Southern Blue Flag Iris (Iris virginica)
     #95 White Clover (Trifolium repens)     NON-NATIVE
     #96 Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
     #97 Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)
     #98 Yellow Pond-lily (Nuphar variegata)

 Tuesday 03 June 2014
     #99 American Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
     #100 Common Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)     NON-NATIVE  

     #101 Winged Euonymus (Euonymus alatus)     NON-NATIVE
     #102 Amur maple (Acer ginnala)     NON-NATIVE
     #103 Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)    NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
     #104 Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale)     NON-NATIVE
     #105 Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)     NON-NATIVE
     #106 Bittersweet Nightshade  (Solanum dulcamara)     NON-NATIVE
     #107 Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia)
     #108 Silky Dogwood (Cornus amonum)
     #109 Carpet Bugle (Ajuga reptans)     NON-NATIVE

     #110 Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) 
     #111 Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis)
     #112 Northern Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)
     #113 Running Strawberry Bush (Euonymus obovatus)
     #114 Common Black Snakeroot (Sanicula odorata)
     #115 Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)
     #116 Hairy Vetch (Vicia cracca)     NON-NATIVE
     #117 Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)     NON-NATIVE
     #118 English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)     NON-NATIVE
     #119 Mossy Stonecrop (Sedum acre)     NON-NATIVE

     #120 Birdfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)     NON-NATIVE
     #121 Yellow Sweet Clover (Melilotus officinalis)     NON-NATIVE
     #122 King Devil (Hieracium piloselloides)     NON-NATIVE
     #123 Clammy Ground-cherry (Physalis heterophylla)
     #124 Giant Bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum)

     #125 White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)
     #126 Purple Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)

     #127 Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)     NON-NATIVE
     #128 Silvery Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea)     NON-NATIVE
     #129 Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
    #130 Bitter Dock (Rumex obstusifolius)     NON-NATIVE
    #131 Common Goat's Beard (Tragopogon pratensis)     NON-NATIVE

     #132 Wild Garlic (Allium canadense)
     #133 Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)
     #134 Narrow-leafed Cattail (Typha angustifolia)      NON-NATIVE in Michigan
     #135 Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum)    
     #136 Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius)     NON-NATIVE
     #137 Cursed Crowfoot (Ranunculus scleratus
     #138 Rough-fruited Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)     NON-NATIVE
     #139 Crown-vetch (Securigera varia)     NON-NATIVE
     #140 White Avens (Geum canadense)
     #141 Wild Rose (Rosa blanda)
     #142 Northern Bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)
     #143 Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina)
     #144 Eastern Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
     #145 Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)
     #146 Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)
     #147 Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
     #148 Common Enchanter's-nightshade (Circaea canadensis)
     #149 Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
     #150 Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)     NON-NATIVE

     #151 Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
     #152 Border Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium)     NON-NATIVE
     #153 Large-leaved Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica)
     #154 Common St. John's-wort (Hypericum perfoliatum)
     #155 White Sweet Clover (Melilotus albus)     NON-NATIVE
     #156 Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
     #157 Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina)

     #158 Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
     #159 Common Elder (Sambucus canadensis)
     #160 Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria)     NON-NATIVE
     #161 Chicory (Cichorium intybus)     NON-NATIVE

     #162 Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)
     #163 Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense)

     #164 Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis)
     #165 Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)
     #166 Tall Agrimony (Agrimonia gryposepala)
     #167 American Lopseed (Phryma leptostachya)

     #168 Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)     NON-NATIVE
     #169 Common Mullein (Verbascum thaspus)     NON-NATIVE
     #170 Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)
     #171 Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)     NON-NATIVE

     #172 Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
     #173 Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)     NON-NATIVE
     #174 Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)

     #175 White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia)
     #176 Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
     #177 Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis)     NON-NATIVE
     #178 Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)     NON-NATIVE
     #179 Catnip (Nepeta cataria)     NON-NATIVE
     #180 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
     #181 Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

 Thursday 17 July 2014
     #182 Common Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis)
     #183 Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe)     NON-NATIVE (INVASIVE)
     #184 Common Water Horehound (Lycopus americanus)
     #185 Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
     #186 Northern Water Plantain (Alisma triviale)
     #187 Willow-herb (Epilobium ciliatum)
     #188 Ditch Stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides)
     #189 Common Burdock (Arctium minus)     NON-NATIVE

Sunday 27 July 2014
     #190 Spotted Joe-pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
     #191 Spotted Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis)

Monday 28 July 2014
     #192 Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
     #193 Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
     #194 Hairy Wood Mint (Blephilia hirsuta)
     #195 Panicled Tick-trefoil (Desmodium paniculatum)
     #196 Cut-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
     #197 Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)     NON-NATIVE
     #198 Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine)     NON-NATIVE
     #199 Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Friday 15 August 2014
     #200 Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)
     #201 Narrow-leafed Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)
     #202 Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
     #203 Field Sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis)
     #204 Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)
     #205 Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana)  

Monday 18 August 2014
     #206 Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum)
     #207 Flat-topped White Aster (Doellingeria umbellata)
     #208 Swamp Lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata)
     #209 Hog-peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata)
     #210 Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
     #211 Rough-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago patula)
     #212 White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)
     #213 Thin-leafed Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus)
     #214 Mad-dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
     #215 Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)     NON-NATIVE in Michigan
     #216 Horseweed (Conyza canadensis)
     #217 Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisifolia)

 Tuesday 26 August 2014
     #218 Nodding Smartweed (Persicaria lapathifolia)
     #219 Common Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium)     NON-NATIVE
     #220 Tall Blue Lettuce (Lactuca biennis)
     #221 Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
     #222 Panicled Aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum)
     #223 Big-leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)
     #224 Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis

Monday 08 September 2014
     #225 Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphiotrichum urophyllum)
     #226 Common Heart-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)
     #227 Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium)     NON-NATIVE
     #228 Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)
     #229 Swamp Aster (Symphyotrichum puniceum)
     #230 Beech-drops (Epifagus virginiana)     

Thursday 11 September 2014
     #231 Purplestem Beggar-ticks (Bidens connata)
     #232 Nodding Beggar-ticks (Bidens cernua)
     #233 Pale-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus strumosus)

Monday 22 September 2014
     #234 Cheerful Sunflower (Helianthus x laetiflorus)
     #235 Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum)
     #236 Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)
     #237 Redroot Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus)     NATIVE/NON-NATIVE status is debated
 Tuesday 14 October 2014
     #238 Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)  

Monday, October 27, 2014

100 Species to Know by Sight - #5 Skunk Cabbage

The fifth flower on my list of 100 species that every kid (and adult) in mid-Michigan should be able to identify by sight is the Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).  My wife thinks it's funny, but this is my favorite wildflower.  Skunk Cabbage is the first flower to bloom every year - its flowers produce so much heat through their metabolic processes that it is capable of melting snow.  Finding the first Skunk Cabbage flower of the year is a more reliable sign of spring than the appearance of the year's first Robin.

Skunk Cabbage flowers are capable of melting snow

The flowers of Skunk Cabbage emerge directly from the ground before the plant's leaves appear.  Their mottled purple and green color and a putrid smell attract carrion flies.  These two factors as well as the flower's location directly on the ground also attract beetles.  I have also seen honey bees pollinating these flowers.

Skunk Cabbage flowers attract flies and beetles with their unpleasant odor

Skunk Cabbage leaves emerge from the ground several weeks after the plant begins flowering.  The leaves grow rabidly and eventually may be up to 3 feet long.  When crushed, the large cabbage-like leaves have a distinctive "skunk" smell giving this species its common name.

Skunk Cabbage leaves - the flowers can be seen at the base of each plant

Skunk Cabbage leaves can grow up to 3 feet long

To find Skunk Cabbage look in swamps, floodplains, and other wet habitats.  This species is found throughout the northeastern part of the United States and Canada.  Mid-Michigan is near the geographic center of its range.

Skunk Cabbage leaves carpet a swamp

In the Fall, after the plant's leaves have died down, look for its large fruit.  The fruit have a fleshy white interior surrounding several large dark seeds.  The fruit is reportedly eaten by bears and possibly raccoons.

Skunk Cabbage fruit
To see the previous species on my list of 100 Species to Know by Sight - please click here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hard Frost and Milkweed Seeds (23 OCT 2014)

Six times this month the overnight temperature has dropped down below freezing.  Wednesday night the temperature reached down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (the third time it has reached this low for the month).  When I got to work, the field behind the office was covered with a heavy layer of frost. 

The Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) plants have dropped all of their leaves.  Their seedpods split open releasing the ripe seeds inside.  The field is covered with milkweed seeds and their fluffy parachutes.

The frost covered seeds spent the morning waiting for a breeze to carry them to a new home.

Most of the seeds never make it beyond the field - they snag on plants and other objects along the way.

Even if their silken parachute only carries them a few feet from their parent plant it has done its job of dispersal.   In this way, the parent plant reduces competition from its own offspring and those seeds that do make it further than a few feet become explores capable of colonizing new fields, expanding the species to the physical limits of its range.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

100 Species to Know by Sight - #4 Black-eyed Susan

The next species on my list of 100 species that every kid (and adult) in Mid-Michigan should be able to identify by sight is the Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta).  This plant is both common as a wildflower and in gardens.  It can be found across most of the Lower 48 and the southern tier of Canadian provinces.  Because this species is a popular garden plant it can be difficult to determine which populations are native and which have escaped from cultivation. 

Black-eyed Susan flowers
Black-eyed Susan can be identified by it dark brown-black, cone-shaped central disc surrounded by 8-20 bright yellow rays (petals).  The flower can be up to 3 inches across.  The plant blooms from mid-Summer into fall.

Black-eyed Susan - note the dark central disc surrounded by bright yellow rays

Black-eyed Susan plants grow up to 2.5 feet tall.  The plants have alternate leaves that can be up to 7 inches long.  The leaves are concentrated on the lower part of the plant's stem.  both the leaves and stems are covered with a dense covering of hair.

Black-eyed Susan - not the alternate leaves and hairy, leafless upper stem

Black-eyed Susan grows in a variety of upland habitats, in both sun and partial shade.  It is a short-lived plant that does well in disturbed habitats.  It is often used in prairie restorations, where it does well for several years before being crowded out by its competitors.

Black-eyed Susan in a prairie restoration
For the previous species in this series of 11 Species to Know by Sight look here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - The Flowers I Didn't Find

I went into my Wildflower Big Year with a reasonable expectation of finding 200 species.  In the end, my list ended at 238 species.  When doing a project such as this it helps to have expectations of when and where to find certain things. I know that there are some species of flowers that I will only find in certain places.  Other species can be found everywhere I look.  While I did find some new species this year, it was often the flowers that I did not find that were the bigger surprises.

Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana): I found the fruits of Thimbleweed, but missed the bloom somehow. 

Thimbleweed - photo from 2008

Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia):  I found quite a few Common Arrowhead plants, but never saw a single one in bloom this Summer.  This species seemed to be less numerous than in previous years.

Common Arrowhead - photo from 2008

Three-lobed Coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba):  I did not find any Three-lobed Coneflower plants this year.  Normally I find it blooming along the trails in Mill Pond Park.  The mowed area along the trails was widened this year and this species appears to have been a victim of the mower.

Three-lobed Coneflower - photo from 2008

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta):  Black-eyed Susan has never been common in Mt. Pleasant's parks.  The areas where I had previously found it have grown up with much thicker vegetation and the species appears to have been blocked out by its competitors.

Black-eyed Susan - photo from 2007

Butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris):  Butter-and-eggs is a common weed that likes disturbed area.  Like Black-eyed Susan it gets pushed out by thicker vegetation.  The absence of this species was a real surprise.

Butter-and-eggs - scan of a photo from 2005

Cardinalflower (Lobelia cardinalis):  Over the past few years I have been able to reliably find a single Cardinalflower growing in a certain spot in Mill Pond Park.  This year it was not there. 

Cardinalflower - photo from 2009

Large-flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora):  Large-flowered Bellwort is one of those species that I have found intermittently over they years.  Some years it appears, but more often I do not find it.  In the years that it does show up, it is normally only one or two plants.  This year I didn't find it.  Not really a surprise, but I was hoping to find it.

Large-flowered Bellwort - scan of a photo from 2006

Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris):  Failing to find Bladder Campion in the parks was also not a huge surprise.  I have only found this species a few times over the past decade.

Bladder Campion - photo from 2008

Indian-hemp or Flowering Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum):  The lack of Flowering Dogbane can be directly attributed to construction.  I normally find a healthy clump of it growing at the canoe landing at Chipp-A-Waters Park.  This was torn up and covered up during construction this spring.  I hope the plant reappears in 2015.  I have also found the plant growing in a few other places along the riverbank, but trimming right to the river's edge (not really a good practice) kept those populations knocked back this year.

Flowering Dogbane - photo from 2008

White Lettuce (Prenanthes alba):  I think I probably just missed the bloom of this one this year, but I really don't remember seeing many White Lettuce plants earlier in the year.  This plant may just be in a down cycle.

White Lettuce - photo from 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wildflowers of 2014 - #238 Witch Hazel

Last Tuesday (14 OCT), I found what will probably be my final wildflower of 2014.

Wildflowers of 2014 - #238 Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Most wildflowers have finished blooming for the year before the Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) begins to flower.  This native shrub blooms between late September and early November.  In Michigan it is typically the last plant of the year to begin flowering.  Its yellow flowers are pollinated by flies, moths, and beetles.  The plant is also capable of self pollination.  The  flower's narrow petals are up to 3/4 of an inch long.

Witch-hazel flowers

A bee-mimicking fly (upper right) visits a Witch-hazel flower

Witch-hazel is found in the eastern United States and Canada, east of a line from Minnesota south to eastern Texas.  In Michigan, it is found in nearly every county.  It commonly grow to a height of up to 20 feet.  Witch-hazel leaves grow up to 5 inches long and 3 inches wide.  The leaves grow in an alternate pattern on the branches.

The wavy branches of a Witch-hazel plant

Witch-hazel loses its leaves about the same time that it flowers