Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #49 through #55

I'm trying to get caught up on wildflowers - the following species were found on Tuesday May 17th.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #49 Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

My first wildflower of the day was Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum).  For information on this plant, please see my species profile from May 2013.

Wild Geranium flower

A Wild Geranium leaf

Wildflowers of 2016 - #50 Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum)
A colony of Nodding Trillium at Mill Pond Park

Nodding Trillium
My second species of the day was not a new species for me, but it was in a new location.  Previously, I have only found Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum) growing at Mission Creek Park.  Now I know that it also grows in a single patch at Mill Pond Park.  This is my second Trillium species of the year.  Unlike the large showy flowers of Large-flowered Trillium, the flowers of Nodding Trillium are hidden beneath the plant's leaves.  It still sports the typical Trillium arrangement of things in threes - three leaves, three petals, three sepals.  For more information on this species, check out this profile from February 2014.

Nodding Trillium - note things in threes (or multiples of threes)

Wildflowers of 2016 - #51 American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia)

My third flower of the day was found on a small understory tree.  American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia) is found throughout the southern half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.  It is an eastern species, growing in every state east of the Mississippi River (except Maine) and only as far west as eastern Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  It has also been documented in Ontario and Quebec.

American Bladdernut - note bell-shaped flowers and three part leaves

American Bladdernut is a small tree (or shrub) that grows up to 15 feet tall.  It grows in wet deciduous forests, especially floodplains.  The tree has compound leaves divided into three leaflets - as the Latin trifolia suggests.

The flowers of American Bladdernut are small, bell-shaped, and normally white, but fade to light green or pink with age.  Bladdernut is named for its distinctive seed pods.  Each pod is a three chambered papery capsule (bladder), with a seed found in each chamber.  When the pods are dry, the seeds can be heard rattling within.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #52 Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)

The fourth flower of the day was found in a group of shrubs/small trees.  A quick look at this shrub shows it as a Cherry  species with its reddish bark and elongated clusters of small white flowers.  To determine which species requires a closer look.  Of the native and introduced species of cherries that can be found in Michigan, only Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) and Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana) have elongated flower clusters.  The easiest way to identify small members of the two species is to look at the leaves.  Both Wild Black Cherry and Choke Cherry have leaves with serrated margins.  The teeth on the Wild Black Cherry leaves are rounded and curl inward like a wave breaking; the teeth on the Choke Cherry leaves come to a distinct point with no curl. The leaves on this plant have teeth that come to a point with no inward curl, identifying it as a Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana).

Choke Cherry grows as either shrub or a small tree

Choke Cherry flowers

Choke Cherry leaf - note margin with pointed "teeth"

Wildflowers of 2016 - #53 Starry False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum)

Starry False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum)  can be distinguished from true Solomon's Seal plants by having flowers at the end of the stem rather than hanging below the stem from the leaf axils (point where the leaf attaches to the stem).  Starry False Solomon's Seal flowers are about 1/3 inch across and have 6 narrow white petals.

A colony of Starry False Solomon's Seal

Starry False Solomon's Seal is found across North America, in all states but seven in the Southeast (from Texas to North Carolina).  In Michigan, it can be found throughout much of the state.  It grows in a variety of wooded habitats, from wet to dry.

Starry False Solomon's Seal - note six petals on each flower

Wildflowers of 2016 - #54 Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

My sixth flower of the day was an invasive shrub - Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica).  This species can be distinguished from the other common common species of non-native honeysuckles by its rosy-pink flowers.  This shrub grows throughout the Mt. Pleasant parks system.  Like other non-native Honeysuckle species, this shrub was originally grown as a landscape plant but escaped into wild areas when birds deposited its seeds in their droppings.  It can be found in scattered locations across Michigan and in 36 states and 7 Canadian provinces.

Tartarian Honeysuckle - rosy pink flowers grow from the leaf axils

Wildlowers of 2016 - #55 Jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens)

Jetbead - note four petals on the flower

 My final flower of the day was a new one for me.  I found a shrub with serrated opposite leaves and large white flowers with four petals.  I initially thought it was something some species of Flowering Raspberry, but the flowers did not look correct.  My search next took me to roses.  The leaves and flower looked vaguely like those of a member of the Rosaceae - Flowering Raspberries are a member of this family also.  The plant did not have any thorns, so this ruled out most but not all Rosa species.  It did not match up with any of the thornless rose species.  Finally I resorted to looking in The Shrub Identification Book by George W.D. Symonds.  There, on page 79, I found my a plant with opposite serrated leaves and large flowers with four petals.  My mystery plant was Jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens).  My initial thoughts were correct as Jetbead is indeed a member of the Rosaceae.

Jetbead - opposite leaves and four-petaled flower eventually helped me identify this plant

This species is a native to East Asia and has escaped cultivation in many areas of the eastern United States.  It is a small shrub, reaching 6 feet in height.  It's leaves measure 2.5 to 4 inches long.  The white flowers up to 2 inches across.  The flowers are replaced by red fruit that ripens to black.  Each fruit looks like a blackberry that has only partially developed - consisting of only four small segments (drupelets).  When ripe each drupelet resembles a small shiny black bead.

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