Thursday, July 7, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #183 through #186

Yesterday (06 July 2016), I added four more species to my Wildflower of 2016 lit.  The first two species were photographed at  Pickens Field and the other two were photographed at Mission Creek Woodland Park.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #183 White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia)

On June 21st I recorded Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) as Species #152 for the year.  My first flower yesterday was the closely related White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia).  The two species are very similar; in fact, the plants are so closely related that they may hybridize. 

White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia) - note nettle-like leaves
The major difference between the two species is flower color.  While those of Blue Vervain are a deep violet blue, White Vervain flowers are (of course) white.  The small flowers (3/8 inch) are arranged on clusters of spikes like those of Blue Vervain, but the spikes of White Vervain are less compact and tend to sprawl more.  Leaves of White Vervain also tend to be wider than those of Blue Vervain.  The leaves resemble those of Nettles (Urticaceae), thus the urticifolia in the species scientific name.  White Vervain plants may grow to a height of 5 feet.

White Vervain - note small white flowers

White Vervain is found in moist soils.  It is more tolerant of partial shade than Blue Vervain.  It is often found in open woodlands and wooded floodplains where Blue Vervain is not present.  It has a smaller natural range than Blue Vervain.  While Blue Vervain is found from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast, White Vervain is only found east of the Rocky Mountains.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #184 Virgin' Bower (Clematis virginiana)

My second flower of the day was Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana).  This native vine climbs to a height of 6 to 10 feet.  The leaves on the plant are arranged in alternate pairs.  Each leaf has three pointed oval leaflets with toothed margins and a notched base.

Virgin's Bower leaves have three lobed leaflets

The flowers of Virgin's Bower are white, 3/8 to 5/8 inch across, and grow in flat topped panicles.  Individual plants may have all male (staminate) flowers, all female (pistillate) flowers, or both staminate and pistillate flowers.

Virgin's Bower flowers
Virgin's Bower typically grows in moist habitats such as floodplains, wet forest edges, swamps, etc.  It is found throughout the eastern half of North America, east of a line running south from Manitoba to eastern Texas.

Virgin's Bower often flowers profusely

Wildflowers of 2016 - #185 Thin-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba)

My third flower of the day was found in a dry upland area at Mission Creek.  Thin-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba) has a composite flower with a dark brown disc surrounded by 6 to 12 rays.  This species goes by several different names including Three-lobed Coneflower (a reference to it's typically lobed leaves) and Brown-eyed Susan (differentiating it from the related Black-eyed Susan or Rudbeckia hirta).  Initially, I thought that these flowers may have been R. hirta, because I did not see any lobed leaves, but I eventually settled on an identification of R. triloba based on the overall characteristics of the plant.  Looking back at my photos, I do see a few lobed leaves that I did not notice when the photos were taken.

Thin-leaved Coneflower - note flattened discs

For more information on Rudbeckia species, check out my post "Three Rudbeckias are better than one" from August 2013.

Thin-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba)

Wildflowers of 2016 - #186 American Lopseed (Phryma leptostachya)

The final flower of the day would be easy to overlook because of the small size of its blooms.  American Lopseed (Phryma leptostachya) has small tubular flowers arranged in opposite pairs on one or more spikes (racemes) that rise above the plant's leaves.  Individual flowers are up to one inch long, but only 1/4 inch across.  The flowers bloom in sequence from the bottom of the spike to the top, with only a few pairs blooming at any one time. The flowers are white with a pinkish tint.  After pollination, the plant's seed pods droop downward until they are parallel with the stem.

American Lopseed - note paired leaves and purplish stems

The leaves of Lopseed are roughly ovate or egg-shaped with coarsely toothed margins and a pointed tip.  The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs and each leaf may be up to 5 inches long.  The plant itself may be up to three feet tall.  Another distinguishing feature of this plant is the purple color of the plant's stems.
American Lopseed - note small white flowers and seedpods that fold downward against the stem

American Lopseed is the single plant in its genus (Phryma) in North America.  Its range is primarily in the eastern half of the continent, being found in every state east of a line from North Dakota to Texas.  There is also a connected population in northeast Colorado and an unconnected (probably introduced) population in one county in Northern California.  Canadian populations can be found in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.  This species is normally found in moist to dry forested habitats.  There is a large patch of it growing near the bottom of the west set of stairs leading down to Mission Creek.

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