Friday, June 24, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #133 through #140

The following nine species were photographed between 10 June 2016 and 17 June 2016.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #133 Rough-fruited Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)

Rough-fruited Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)

I found Species #133 for the year at Mill Pond Park on Friday June 10th.  Rough-fruited Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta) is a native of Eurasia, but is now found across most of North America with the exceptions of the Desert Southwest and Canadian Arctic.  It grows on roadsides, in fields and meadows, and other weedy places.
Rough-fruited Cinquefoil is easily identified by its distinctive lobed leaves
Rough-fruited Cinquefoil - note pale yellow flower with heart-shaped petals

Of the fifteen Potentilla species that are found in Michigan, Rough-fruited Cinquefoil is one of the easier species to identify.  It has pale yellow flowers with five heart-shaped petals - giving it the alternate name of Sulphur Cinquefoil.  The compound leaves are the most distinguishing characteristic of this species.  Each leaf has 5-7 leaflets arranged palmately (radiating outward from a central point) with coarsely toothed margins.

Wildflower of 2016 - #134 Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)

The next plant was also found at Mill Pond Park.  Moonseed (Menispermum canadense) is a species that is typically found in floodplains and other moist wooded areas.  It is found across eastern North America as far west as as a line running from Manitoba down to Texas.  In Michigan it is found exclusively in the Lower Peninsula, with the exception of Menominee County in the Upper Peninsula.

Moonseed - note leaf shape, small flowers (upper left) and climbing vines

Moonseed is a native vine with lobed leaves that bears a resemblance to Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata), but while Wild Cucumber climbs with the aid of tendrils that wrap around objects for support, Canada Moonseed uses its main stem to twine around supports.  Moonseed vines may grow to a height of 6-20 feet.  The small white flowers of Moonseed have six petals and are borne in hanging panicles.  After pollination small (1/4-1/3) round berries will develop.  These berries are purple-blue to purple-black and are covered with a white waxy bloom.  Unfortunately these berries look a lot like wild grapes.  I say unfortunately because Moonseed berries are toxic and can be mistaken for edible grapes.  

The small flowers of Moonseed

Wildflowers of 2016 - #135 Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)

Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)

Silky Dogwood - a closer view of the flowers

My next species was found on Monday June 13th at Pickens Field.  Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum) is the second Dogwood species that I have identified this year.  Red-osier Dogwood (C. sericea) was species #70.  

Silky Dogwood - if you look closely at the underside of the leaves you can see the fine hairs that give the species its name

Superficially, Red-osier and Silky Dogwood can be very difficult to distinguish between; both have similar leaves, flowers, and bark that can be either green or red.  Although the color of their fruit is different, this is not helpful early in the growing season.  One major difference between the two species is the color of the soft pith at the center of their twigs.  Red-osier pith is white, while that of Silky Dogwood is brown.  This plant had brown pith so I identified it as Silky Dogwood.

Brown pith = Silky Dogwood

For more information about how to distinguish between these two species read this post from 2013.

The next five species were photographed on Friday June 17th at Mission Creek Woodland Park.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #136 Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

My first flower of the day belonged to a non-native species.  Crown-vetch (Securigera varia) is commonly planted for erosion control and has naturalized across much of the United States and Canada.  It has been recorded in every state but Alaska and North Dakota.
Crown-vetch is a member of the Legume family and has flowers with the typical pea shape.  The pink and white flowers are arranged in a round dense cluster that resembles a crown.

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

 Crown-vetch vines can grow to a height of 1-3 feet.  While the plants may use other vegetation for support, the vines lack climbing tendrils.  The leaves of Crown-vetch are arranged alternately along the stem, with each compound leaf being composed of an odd number (11-25) of leaflets.  The plant can reproduce both by seed and by underground rhizomes.  Because of these dual methods of reproduction, Crown-vetch often forms dense colonies that crowd out other plant species.    

Crown Vetch - a closer view of the flowers

Wildflowers of 2016 - #137 Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina)

My second new species of the day was the Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina).  I found it growing along one of the trails on the north side of the park.  Gray Dogwood can be found throughout eastern North America and grows in both wet and dry soils. In Michigan it is found mainly in the southern two-thirds of the Lower Peninsula, with scattered colonies is four UP counties.

Gray Dogwood (Cornus foemina)
Gray Dogwood is my third Cornus species of the year - Red-osier Dogwood (C. sericea) was Species #70 and Silky Dogwood (C. amomum) was above at #135.  Gray Dogwood can be easily distinguished from the other two species by the shape of its flower clusters.  While both Red-osier and Silky Dogwood have flat-topped flower clusters, those of Gray Dogwood are pyramid shaped or have a rounded top.  All three species have opposite leaves.  For more information on dogwood identification please see this post

Gray Dogwood - note more rounded flower cluster than Silky or Red-osier Dogwood

Wildflowers of 2016 - #138 Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

I did not record Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) on my Wildflowers of 2014 list.  This is somewhat surprising based on the number of plants that I found this year.

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

Wild Sarsaparilla is native to the northern United States and Canada.  It can be found as far south as Georgia (in the Appalachian highlands).  In Michigan it has been recorded in all but five scattered counties.  It grows in forest habitats in a variety of soil conditions from dry to moist.

Wild Sarsaparilla plants grow up to about 18 inches in height.  Plants have a central stalk that supports three compound leaves with three to seven leaflets.  Individual leaflets measure less than 6 inches, overall the whole leaf can measure up to 20 inches.

Wild Sarsaparilla flowers

The flowers of Wild Sarsaparilla are hidden beneath the plant's leaves.  The flowers grow on a separate branching stalk from the leaves.  While the flowers grow in globe-shaped clusters that measure as much as 2 inches across, individual flowers are small and measure only 1/8 inch across.  These flowers consist of five green petals, five protruding stamen, and a pistil with five sepals.  Upon opening, the petals often curl backward.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #139 Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata) is considered one of the most poisonous plants in North America, and is toxic to both humans and livestock. Death may result from ingesting even a small piece of this plant.

Water Hemlock in the swamp at Mission Creek Park

Water Hemlock commonly grows in moist habitats such as swamps, marshes, ditches and wet prairies.  It is found throughout Michigan but is more commonly reported in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula.  It has a nearly continent wide distribution, with samples being identified in 49 states (not Hawaii) and all Canadian provinces and territories with the exceptions of Labrador and Nunavut.  I find it growing throughout the cedar swamp at Mission Creek Park.

Water Hemlock leaves

Water Hemlock can grow up to six foot tall, but many local plants top out at 2 1/2 to 3 foot tall.  It has purplish stems, compound leaves, and white umbel shaped (flat-topped) clusters of small flowers. These flowers bear a resemblance to those of many other species, and may result in tragic cases of misidentification if it is mistaken for one of the edible members of the Carrot family (Apiaceae).

Water Hemlock - note small white flowers growing in loose umbels

Wildflowers of 2016 - #140 Wild Garlic (Allium canadense)

My final species of the day was photographed at Pickens Field.  I have been waiting for Wild Garlic (Allium canadense) to bloom for more than two weeks.  While searching for other flowers I noticed a strong garlic smell.  A closer look through the vegetation revealed the flower stalks of several garlic plants.  Each of these stalks was topped with a cluster of bulblets encased in a papery husk.

Wild Garlic is often hidden among taller grass

Eventually, the bulblets swelled enough to break through the papery husks and reveal both the bulblets and several small flowers encased inside.  The small flowers have six petals and are usually pink (sometimes white).

Wild Garlic flower emerging from bulblets

Wild Garlic can be found in most states east of the Rocky Mountains.  In Michigan, it is found mainly in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula.  Wild Garlic grows in a variety of habitats such as woodlands, meadows, and floodplains, in both sun and shade.  In the past, I have also photographed this species at Mill Pond Park.

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