Monday, May 2, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #22 through #26

Last Monday (25 April 2016), I was able to add five additional species to my Wildflowers of 2016 list, bring the total to twenty-six species for the year.  In 2014, I did not find my twenty-sixth wildflower species until May 11th.
 
Wildflowers of 2016 - #22 Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Large-flowered Trillium in a patch of Wild Leeks

I noticed several Large-flowered Trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum) as early as April 17th, but none were open until a week later.  Even then, overcast skies meant that the flowers were not completely open. 

Large-flowered Trillium - notice all of the parts that come in threes (leaves, sepals, petals)


To learn more about the Large-flowered Trillium, please check out this species profile from April 2013.


Wildflowers of 2016 - #23 Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

While the large white flowers of Trillium were easy to find,  I had to search far and wide for my second species of the day.  There are several large patches of Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) to be found at Chip-A-Waters Park - the rhizomes of this species grow outward to easily form large colonies.  Finding the plants is only the first step to finding the flower as the flowers grow below the leaves and rest directly on the ground.  Even knowing where to search, I still had to search through two patches of Wild Ginger before I found a single flower.

Wild Ginger flowers grow directly on the grown between pairs of leaves

Wild Ginger flowers are urn shaped, have three petal-like sepals, and measure approximately 1 inch across.  The sepals may vary in color from brown to purple to (less commonly) greenish-red.  Because the flowers sit directly on the ground, they are mainly pollinated by several species of ground-dwelling beetles.  The flowers and all other parts of the plant are covered with fine "hairs".

Wild Ginger - note fine hairs on all parts of the plant

Wild Ginger is found throughout the eastern United States and Canada as far south as Alabama and Georgia and as far west as the Dakotas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.


Wildflowers of 2016 - #24  Whitlow Grass (Draba verna)

Whitlow Grass is often found in lawns and other disturbed areas

My third flower of the day was growing in a lawn area, near the trailhead at Chipp-A-Waters Park.  Whitlow Grass (Draba verna) is only my second non-native species of the year.  This European native has naturalized across much of North America, being absent from the Great Plains.  I have a feeling that this species is more common than indicated by the USDA maps and is simply under-represented in herbaria collections.  The plant is small - measuring 2 to 12 inches tall, with a basal rosette of leaves that measure 3/8 to 3/4 inches across.  The flowers are white and have four deeply notched petals.


Whitlow Grass is small and easy to overlook

Whitlow Grass flowers have four deeply notched petals


Wildflowers of 2016 - #25 Early Meadow-rue (Thalictrum dioicum)

My next species of the day was Early Meadow-rue (Thalictrum dioicum).  I found this species nearly a month earlier than in 2014 (May 20th).  This is one of five Meadow-rue species found in Michigan.  It can be distinguished from the other species by looking at its leaves.  Three of the other four species have leaflets with three or fewer lobes - Early Meadow-rue has leaflets with 5 to 9 lobes.  The other species with leaflets with more than three lobes (T. venulosum) is not found in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

Early Meadow-rue leaves

Early Meadow-rue - note leaves have more than three lobes
 
The drooping flowers of Early Meadow-rue are found on branched clusters known as panicles.  Male and female flower are found on separate plants.  Male flowers have four purplish-brown or greenish-white petals with many yellow stamen dangling underneath.

Early Meadow-rue - male flowers

Wildflowers of 2016 - #26 White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)

If I want to see White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum) growing wild in the Mt. Pleasant area, I know of only one small woodlot where it can be found.  This plant is not common in Mid-Michigan, we are at the very northern edge of its range in the Lower Peninsula (a population can also be found in the western Upper Peninsula).  Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) is much more common in Mid-Michigan even in the small woods where the White Trout Lily grows.

Like many other species of plants, I originally stumbled upon this flower by accident.  When I found it the first time I saw only one flower in bloom, and then I didn't see it blooming again for five years.  During those five years, beaver felled many of the trees in this small woods opening the canopy and allowing more sunlight to reach the forest floor.  In 2009, I found about ten White Trout Lily in bloom and I have managed to find it every year since.

This time I found a single plant in bloom.  This species does not flower every year.  It takes several years for the plants to produce enough stored energy in their corms (bulb-like structures) to produce a flower.  For several years, the plant will produce a single leaf and no flower; finally, after as many as seven year, the plant will grow a pair of leaves and a single white flower.

The single White Trout Lily that I found had not entirely opened up.  The flower petals will often curl upward to reveal its pistil and stamen.

White Trout Lily - this flower remained closed due to overcast skies

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