Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #120 through #127

The following eight species were photographed on Wednesday June 8th.  The first four species were recorded at Mission Creek Woodland Park and the final three were found at Chipp-A-Waters Park.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #120 Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)

Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora) is considered an invasive species or noxious weed by twelve states.  It was long planted for erosion control and for wildlife habitat, but has spread when wildlife consume its fruit (hips) and deposit the seeds in their droppings.

Multiflora Rose

Multiflora Rose can be distinguished from other Rose species by its many white flowers - multiflora means "many-flowered".  Most native species produce single pink blooms.  Many of the other introduced species also produce pink flowers.  Individual Multiflora Rose blooms have five petals surrounding a yellow center.

Multiflora Rose - note compound leaves and curved thorns

Mutliflora Rose has compound leaves with 5-9 leaflets (sometimes as few as three on the upper part of the stem).  The leaflets have serrated edges.  The plant's woody stems are covered with curved thorns.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #121 Northern Dewberry (Rubus flagellaris)

Northern Dewberry (Rubus flagellaris) can be found across eastern North America, as far west as east Texas north to Minnesota and Ontario.  In Michigan it is found in locations throughout the state.  It grows in a variety of wet and dry habitat types, ranging from prairies and dunes to hardwood forests and the edges of swamps.

Also known as Common Dewberry, this species grows as a trailing or arching canes that may be up to 15 feet long (trailing) or 4 feet tall (arching).  Vines are covered both with hairs and curved thorns.  Compound leaves are arranged alternately along the canes.  Leaves typically have three leaflets (sometimes five) with serrated margins.  Leaflets measure up to three inches long and one inch wide.  The flowers of Northern Dewberry have five white petals, five green sepals and measure about 1 to 1.25 inches across.  The petals are wrinkled in appearance and are longer than the sepals.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #122 Common Black Snakeroot (Sanicula odorata)

Common Black Snakeroot

Right now the area along Mission Creek is overgrown with Common Black Snakeroot (Sanicula odorata).  There were hundred, possibly thousands, of these plants lining the trail.  While there are four Sanicula species found in Michigan, this is the only one with yellow-green flowers.  The other species have whitish-green blooms.

Common Black Snakeroot - note compound leaves

 Each globe-shaped flower cluster is small, measuring about 1/2 inch across.  The flowers grow in clusters of one to five from the leaf axils and at the upper part of stems.  Because of this feature, this species is also known as Cluster Sanicle.  Another feature that can be used to identify this plant is the deeply lobed leaves with either five parts (low on the plant) or three (higher on the plant).  

Common Black Snakeroot - note compound leaves and globe shaped flower clusters

Wildflowers of 2016 - #123 Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)

Northern Blue Flag

Two species of Blue Flag can be found in Mid-Michigan: Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) and Southern Blue Flag (Iris virginica).  Identification of the two species is difficult, with different resources providing conflicting information.  I identified these plants as Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) based on the purplish base of the plants (I. virginica bases are usually brown), the short cauline (stem) leaves and the prominent veins on the flowers.

Northern Blue Flag - a closer view of the flower

More information on this species can be found here.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #124 American Speedwell (Veronica americana)

I found my next species growing around and among the Northern Blue Flag.  American Speedwell or Brooklime (Veronica americana) is widely distributed across almost all of North America, with the exception of five Southeastern states and Nunavut and Labrador.  Some sources list this as as a variety of European Speedwell (Veronica beccabunga var. americana).

American Speedwell

This is a wetland species and is commonly found in swamps and along streams.  It has small blue flowers (1/4 to 3/8 inch wide) with four petals.  These flowers grow on racemes (elongated clusters) that rise from the leaf axils.  The plant's leaves vary in size from 0.5 to 3 inches long.  Plants measure up to 40 inches tall, but the ones that I photographed were much smaller (up to 12 inches).

American Speedwell - note small size of flowers and four petals

Wildflowers of 2016 - #125 Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

After leaving Mission Creek Park I went to Chipp-A-Waters Park.  Flower #125 was growing on a bank along the trail.  Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) is one of six Bindweed species that can be found in Michigan - a seventh species Macoun's Bindweed (C. macounii) was collected on time in the 1930s.  Of those seven species only three are native to Michigan including Hedge Bindweed.

Hedge Bindweed climbs nearby vegetation

The flowers of Hedge Bindweed are trumpet shaped and have five petals.  The flowers can grow up to 2 3/4 inches across.  Flowers may be white or pink and bloom between May and September.
Hedge Bindweed - note trumpet-shaped flower

Like most of the other Bindweed species, Hedge Bindweed either trails along the ground our uses its stems to twine up surrounding vegetation.  It can be distinguished from all of the other Michigan Bindweed species by the shape of its leaves.  Hedge Bindweed has arrow-head shaped leaves with a sharp tip and blunt rear points (basal lobes).  The leaves may be 2-5 inches long.
Hedge Bindweed - note arrowhead shaped leaves (left)

Hedge Bindweed grows in a variety of sunny habitats in both wet and dry soil.  In Michigan it is found throughout the southern half of the Lower Peninsula and along the shores of both Lakes Huron and Michigan and in scattered locations throughout the Upper Peninsula.  Overall, the plant can be found throughout North America with the exception of the Canadian Arctic.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #126 Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

A Green Dragon popping up above a carpet of Virginia Creeper - note flower at base of Green Dragon stem

The community of plants that can be found at Chipp-A-Waters Park is changing rapidly, and unfortunately not for the better.  Dead and dying ash trees have left large gaps in the canopy, allowing more sunlight to reach the forest floor.  This allows seeds that had lain dormant in the soil to sprout.  many of these seeds belong to invasive shrubs such as honeysuckle or buckthorn.  Garlic Mustar
d is also running rampant.  These non-natives are crowding out many of the native species. 

Green Dragon flower
A few years ago, I found two dozen or more Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium) plants.  This year I had a difficult time finding any.  Eventually I found about 10 plants, but only two were in bloom.  This is one of the coolest, most unique flowers found in Mid-Michigan.  It would be a horrible shame to lose it due to habitat loss.  For more information on this species, please see this profile from June 2013.

Green Dragon flower

Wildflowers of 2016 - #127 Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium

Common Yarrow - note white flat-topped flower cluster and feathery leaves

My final flower of the day has a circumpolar distribution - this means it is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere in both North America and Eurasia.  Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) can be found in every single American state and Canadian province.  Some of the plants are native, some of the plants are introductions from Eurasia, and some are hybrids that contain genes from both.  Yarrow easily grows in almost any type of habitat but is most common in Mid-Michigan in dry habitats like roadsides and old fields.  Common Yarrow can be easily identified by its flat-topped flower clusters made up of many small (1/4 inch) white flowers and also by its feathery leaves.

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