Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #194 through #210

It's been three weeks since I posted anything about my Wildflowers of 2016 list.  The last post on July 8th detailed Species #187 through #193.  It isn't because flowers haven't been blooming; instead I have been away from the Mt. Pleasant area for most of that time.  First I spent almost a week at the Michigan DNR's Academy of Natural Resources.  Then we traveled outside the state for more than a week.  When I finally returned back to the area last week, I spent most of the time catchiing up with work that accumulated while I was away and then spent two afternoons manning our booth at the Isabella County 4H & Youth Fair.

On Monday (01 August), I finally made it back into the woods.  I spent a couple of hours at Mission Creek Woodland Park, both catching up on my wildflower list and collecting leaves to press and preserve.

Wildflowers of 2016- #194 Narrow-leafed  Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

The first flower that I found is one of several species of "Goldenrod" that are currently in bloom in Mid-Michigan - Narrow-leafed Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia).  This species is also known as Grass-leaved Goldenrod due to its narrow leaves or as Flat-topped Goldenrod due to its flat topped flower panicles (branched clusters).

Narrow-leafed Goldenrod in a non-typical (dry) habitat

Like most species of Goldenrod, Narrow-leafed Goldenrod is a late-Summer/Fall blooming plant with small golden-yellow flowers.  The individual flowers are small, measuring about 1/8th inch across, but the panicles measure several inches across.

Narrow-leafed Goldenrod is also called Flat-topped Goldenrod for its flattened flower panicle

Narrow-leafed Goldenrod prefers moist soils.  It is often found growing intermingled with other Goldenrod species in meadows, along shorelines, in ditches, etc.  It ranges across much of North America.  In Michigan it has been recorded in all but eight counties - interestingly Isabella County is one of those eight counties.

Narrow-leafed Goldenrod's abundant pollen and nectar attract many pollinators like this wasp

Several years ago Narrow-leafed Goldenrod was reclassified.  It was formerly known as Solidago graminifolia, but has now been placed in a separate genus (Euthamia)

Wildflowers of 2016 - #195 Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

The second flower was the native Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).  Also known as Bee Balm, this species is the most widespread of four Monarda species found in Michigan.  Nationally it has been recorded in all but four states (AK, HI, CA, FL) and across most of the temperate provinces of Canada.  It can grow in a variety of habitat including open woodlands, savannas, prairies, fields, dunes, etc.  It normally grows in dry habitats but is occasionally found in wetlands.

Wild Bergamot - note tubular flowers

Wild Bergamot is a member of the Mint Family (Lamiaceae).  Like all other mints, it has stems with a square cross-section and opposite pairs of leaves.  The plants can grow to a height of 4 feet and are topped with a single flower head.  Individual flowers on the head are tubular and may be up to an inch long.  Flowers begin blooming near the center of the head first and continue outward to the margins.  Flowers are typically pink or lavender colored.  Wild Bergamot has a distinctive strong scent that reminds some people of mint and others of oregano.  Anyone who drinks Earl Grey tea will recognize this smell.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #196 Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

My third flower of the day was the only non-native species of the day.  Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is the second species of thistle on the list - Canada Thistle (C. arvense) was listed at #178 on June 30th.  Like Canada Thistle, Bull Thistle was originally native to Europe.  It has naturalized across most of North America (except certain areas of the Canadian Arctic).  It was probably introduced accidentally in seed stocks.

Bull Thistle - note profusion of spines on stems and leaves

Bull Thistle is a very spiny plant.  The stem of the plant is covered with small spines and several linear "wings" with widely spaced large spines.  The leaves of the plant are lobed, with stout spines at the tips of each lobe.  The bracts at the base of each  purple/pink flower also come to stiff points.

Bull Thistle - note stiffly pointed bracts and purple/pink flower

Bull Thistle plants grow to a height of 3 to 6 feet.  They are most commonly found in dry upland sites.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #197 Smooth Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)

Smooth Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)

My fourth flower of the day was Smooth Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea).  Also known as Giant Goldenrod or Late Goldenrod, this was the second of three goldenrod species that I found on the day.  Goldenrod identification can be difficult.  There are a lot of different species that are very similar.  I identified this plant based on a couple of characteristics.  It has smooth whitish stems which distinguish it from the Canada Goldenrod (S. canadensis) and Tall Goldenrod (S. altissima).  The leaves of Smooth Goldenrod are elliptic (longer than wide, tapering to both ends) and distinctly toothed.  The teeth help distinguish this species from Early Goldenrod (S. juncea)

Smooth Goldenrod leaf - note sharply toothed margin

The flowers of Smooth Goldenrod are arranged in a pyramid-shaped panicle at the top of the plant.  Individual flowers are small (about 1/4 inch), but the entire flowering panicle may measure 20 inches tall.  The plants reach a height of 1 to 8 feet.

Flower panicle of Smooth Goldenrod

Smooth Goldenrod is classified as a Facultative Wetland species.  This means it is typically found in wetland habitats, but can grow in drier habitats.  It grows in counties throughout Michigan.  I expect it is probably found in every county of the state, but has gone unrecorded in many due to its similarity to other species.  This species has been recorded in forty-seven states (not in Alaska, Hawaii, and Arizona) and across the lower tier of Canadian provinces.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #198 Common Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis)

The fifth flower of the day was Common Evening-primrose (Oenothera biennis).  The flowers of Evening-primroses open at night to attract moths.  The flowers then close up during the course of the day.  Common Evening-primrose flowers are yellow, have four petals, and measure 1 to 2 inches across.  They grow in spikes at the ends of the plant.

Common Evening-primrose along the edge of trail at Mission Creek Park

Common Evening-primrose plants may be up to six feet tall.  As their scientific name implies they are a biennial - flowering in their second year.  The plant's leaves are oval or oblong-shaped and measure 4 to 8 inches long.

Common Evening-primrose flower

Common Evening-primrose usually prefers dry sandy soils found along roadsides, shorelines, forest edges, and fields.  It has a very wide species distribution and can be found from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts with the exception of Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #199 Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis)

Wild Mint (Mentha canadensis) is the only native mint that can be found in Michigan.  It grows in moist soils in a variety of habitats, both sun and shade.  It has a circumpolar distribution - meaning it occurs as a native plant in North America, Europe, and Asia.  European and Asian plants are referred to as Mentha arvensis - the USDA PLANTS database also lists North American plants by this nomenclature.

Wild Mint - note flowers in leaf axils

Like other mint species, Wild Mint has a distinctive "mint" smell and taste which may deter browsing by herbivores.  Wild mint can be distinguished from the other mint species found in Mid-Michigan by the location of its flowers.  All of the non-native Mentha varieties have flowers arranged in spikes; Wild Mint has white (or pink or lavender) tube-shaped flowers arranged in whorls growing from the leaf axils on the upper part of the plant.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #200 Spotted Joe-pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum)

Spotted Joe-pye Weed

The next species is one of the showiest plants of the Late Summer/Fall wildflower season - Spotted Joe-pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum).  This species can grow up to ten feet tall under favorable conditions and has large flat-topped clusters of small pinkish-purple blooms.  It is found across the northern two-thirds of the United States and lower tier of Canadian provinces.

Spotted Joe-pye Weed - note flattened flower cluster

This species has been renamed several times.  All of my wildflower books list this species as Eupatorium maculatum.  It has also been known as Eupatoriadelphus maculatus.  For now the name seems to be settled at Eutrochium maculatum.

Spotted Joe-pye Weed - a closer view of the flowers

For more information on this species please check out this species profile from July 2013

Spotted Joe-pye Weed is easily noticed in a wetland setting

Wildflowers of 2016 - #201 Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum)

Flower number eight for the day was another thistle species - Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum).  Unlike species #178 Canada Thistle (C. arvense) and #196 Bull Thistle (C. vulgare), Swamp Thistle is native to Michigan.  As its name suggests, Swamp Thistle is found in wet soils along shorelines, riverbanks, sedge meadows, and conifer swamps (rarely hardwood swamps).  It is found across eastern North America.  This species is not listed  for Isabella County on the Michigan Flora database.

Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum)
Swamp Thistle is easy to identify.  It grows to a height of 2 to 10 feet tall.  The stems of the plant have few spines along their length.  The plant's leaves are deeply lobed and arranged alternately along the stem.

Swamp Thistle - note smooth(ish) bracts and lack of spines on the stem

The plant is a biennial and flowers in its second year.  The flower is the distinguishing characteristic of this plant.  Swamp Thistle flowers are flat-topped, purple-pink, and arrange either singly or in a group of 2-5 flowers at the top of the stem.  The flowers are at the top of a rounded bract.  What makes this thistle distinctive is the lack of spines on the bract.  This plant flowers from mid-Summer into fall.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #202 Mad-dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

While some wildflowers have names that are perfect descriptors, like Swamp Thistle; other species have names that appear to be nonsense such as Mad-dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora).

Mad-dog Skullcap - note flower racemes emerging from leaf axils

Skullcaps are members of the Mint Family (Lamiaceae).  There are seven species of Skullcaps that are considered native to Michigan, however only two of these Mad-Dog and Marsh Skullcap (S. galericulata) are common.  Skullcaps are named because the shape of their seedpods resembles that of a skullcap.  Mad-Dog Skullcap was named after the mistaken belief that the plant either could cure rabies or was a cause of rabies.

Mad-dog Skullcap - note small blue flowers and opposite leaves

Mad-Dog Skullcap grows in rich, moist soils of swamps, woodlands, and meadows.  It can grow to heights of up to 36 inches but is usually 12 to 18 inches tall.  The plants leaves are oval with pointed tips, arranged in opposite pairs, and have toothed margins.  The plants flowers are pale blue, lavender, or white; tube shaped with a short upper lip and a larger lower lip; and arranged on a raceme (spike) that grows from the leaf axils.  The flowers are small and only measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch long.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #203 Cut-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)

Cut-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)

The tenth flower of the day was Cut-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata).  This plant is also known as Tall Coneflower and can grow up to twelve feet tall.  It prefers the wet soils of swamps, shorelines, floodplains, etc. and can be found across much of the Continental United States (except Oregon, California, and Nevada) and the lower tier of Canadian Provinces.  Like other "coneflowers" the yellow petals of Cut-leaved Coneflower droop from the cylindrical disc to form a cone-shaped bloom.  The flowers may be as much as four inches across.  The leaves of Cut-leaved Coneflower are deeply divided into 3 to 7 lobes.

Cut-leaved Coneflower - note drooping petals
For more information on this plant, please see this species profile from August 2013.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #204 Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)

Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) was originally native to Eurasia.  This species can grow in many soil conditions ranging from moist to dry and grows in both sun and shade.  This adaptability, its non-native status,  and its habit of spreading by underground rhyzomes has caused this plant to be labeled invasive by some sources.  It is now naturalized across the northern two-thirds of the United States and the lower half of Canada.

Creeping Bellflower blooms are arranged along a raceme

Creeping Bellflower plants grow 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall with alternately arranged leaves.  The leaves are oval shaped, measure 2 to 4 inches long, and have toothed margins.  The leaves on the upper part of the plant are narrower than those near the base.  The plant's flowers are arranged on one side of a single flowering stalk (raceme).  The flowers are bell-shaped, up to 1 1/4 inches across, and violet-blue or blue in color.  The flowers bloom in sequence from the base of the raceme to the tip.  The raceme may measure up to a foot (or more) long.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #205 White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)

White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) was the next flower that I found.  While this species is more typically found in wooded upland habitats it can also be found along the margins of swamps, as it is at Mission Creek Park.  It has a range across the eastern United States, being found in every state east of a line running from  North Dakota to Texas.  It is also found in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.  There is also a population recorded in Nunavut.

White Snakeroot - note white flowers and opposite leaves

White Snakeroot bears a resemblance to plants in the Boneset (Eupatorium) family and used to classified as Eupatorium rugosum.  Like the Bonesets this plant has small white flowers.  The flowers measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch across and are arranged in rounded clusters of 12 to 30 flowers.

White Snakeroot -  a closer view of the flowers

The leaves of White Snakeroot  are variable in shape and may be narrow ovals, wide ovals, or heart-shaped.  They are pointed at the tip and have sharply toothed margins.  Unlike Bonesets, the leaves of White Snakeroot have stalks.  The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs.  White Snakeroot plants may reach heights of 1 to 5 feet.

This plant is toxic and can cause a fatal illness in cattle.  If the cattle are milked after consuming White Snakeroot, the toxins can be passed on to humans.  This "Milk Sickness" claimed the lives of many people in early American history, including Abraham Lincoln's mother.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #206 Thin-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus)

The eighth flower of the day is from a group of plants that are not usually associated with woodlands, but several species of sunflowers are commonly founded in wooded habitats including the Thin-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus).

A solitary Thin-leafed Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus)
The leaves of Thin-leaved Sunflower can be used to differentiate this species from other woodland sunflower species.  All of its leaves are arranged in opposite pairs - this distinguished it from Woodland Sunflower (H. divaricatus) which has both opposite (lower) and alternate (upper) leaves.  Rough-leaved Sunflower (H. strumosa) shares with Thin-leaved Sunflower the characteristic of having only opposite leaves, but the leave differ in a couple areas.  The leaves of Thin-leaved Sunflower are smooth while those of Rough-leaved sunflower are (surprise!) rough to the touch.  The leaves of Thin-leaved Sunflower are also sharply toothed and have long stalks - those of Rough-leaved sunflower are shallowly toothed and have short stalks.

Thin-leaved Sunflower - note opposite leaves

The flowers of Thin-leaved Sunflower have a yellow central disc typically surrounded by 8 to 15 yellow rays.  Each plant has only one flower head.  The heads measure 1 1/4 to 3 3/4 inches across.

Thin-leaved Sunflower heads consist of a central disc surrounded by ray flowers (petals)

This species is also known as Pale Sunflower.  It can be found across the eastern United States and Canada.  In Michigan the species is found only in the southern half of the state. 

Wildflowers of 2016- #207 Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Common Boneset (Eupatorium perforatum)

The next plant is one that I profiled in August 2013 - Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum).  Common Boneset is one of four Eupatorium species that are found in Michigan.  It is the the most widespread of the four.  In Michigan, it has been collected in almost every county.  Overall its ranges across eastern North America and is present in every state and province east of a line running from Manitoba south to eastern Texas.  It is most commonly found in moist open habitats such as marshes, wet meadows, and prairies.

Common Boneset -  a closer view of the flowers

Common Boneset is easy to identify.  It grows between 2 and 6 feet tall.  It has flat-topped panicles (branched flower clusters) of small white flowers.  Individual flowers measure about 1/4 inch across.  The leaves of Common Boneset grow in opposite pairs with the bases of the leaves joined so that the stem of the plant appears to grow up through the leaf - the perfoliatum in the plant's name refers to this appearance.  All parts of Common Boneset appear hairy.

Common Boneset - note how bases of paired leaves are joined

Wildflowers of 2016 - #208 Rough-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago patula)

When most people think of goldenrods, they think of species that grow in dry to moist open habitats.  Most people do not associate goldenrods with either woodlands or wetlands, but there are species that grow in both.  Several of these species can be found growing at Mission Creek Park including Rough-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago patula).  This plant is considered an obligate wetland species - meaning it is only found in wet habitats such as swamps and wet meadows. Also known as Swamp Goldenrod, this species can be found east of a line running from eastern Texas to Wisconsin.  In Michigan it is found almost exclusively in the Lower Peninsula.

Rough-leaved Goldenrod - note large basal leaves

Rough-leaved Goldenrod has the golden yellow flowers that you would expect a goldenrod to have.  The individual flowers are small, measuring 1/8 inch.  The flowers along one side of spreading branches that form a pyramid-shaped panicle.

Rough-leaved Goldenrod flowers

The leaves of Rough-leaved goldenrod are large (up to 16 inches long); oval or elliptical in shape, tapering to the point and the stem; and as expected from the name the upper surface of the leaves is rough textured.  The lower surface of the leaf is smooth.  The rough textured leaves and its habit of growing in wetlands make this one of the easier goldenrod species to identify.

Rough-leaved Goldenrod - if you look closely you can see the rough texture on the leaf's upper surface

Wildflowers of 2016 - #209 Monkey-flower (Mimulus ringens)

Monkey-flower (Mimulus ringens)

The next species is one that I did not record on my Wildflowers of 2014 list, but I have previously recorded it in Mt. Pleasant.  Monkey-flower (Mimulus ringens) is a native species found in wetlands throughout the state of Michigan.  Also called Allegheny Monkey-flower or Square-stemmed Monkey-flower, this species has been recorded in forty-two states and eight Canadian provinces.  It is most prevalent in the Great Lakes and Northeast.

Monkey-flower - Can you see the money's face? (I can't.)

To learn more about this species, please check out this species profile from February 2013.

Monkey-flower plants have square stems

Wildflowers of 2016 - #210 Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora

Plants are producers - meaning that they make their own food through the process of photosynthesis.  Unless they don't...

My final find of the day was one of those few species of plants that lacks chlorophyll and is therefore incapable of producing its own food - Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora).  Because Indian Pipe cannot produce its own food it must get it from other sources.  In this way it acts more like a fungus than a plant - it is often confused for a fungus.

Newly emerging Indian Pipe flowers

To get food, Indian Pipe forms a parasitic (possibly symbiotic) relationship with myccorhizal fungi.  These fungi grow in and among the roots of other plants and help the plants gather water and receive sugars (energy) from the roots of the plants.  Plants that form myccorhizal relationships with fungi are much more effective at gather water and nutrients from the soil than those plants that do not.  The Indian Pipe takes advantage of the relationship that these fungi have with certain species of trees (especially American Beech and some species of pine) to skim off some of the sugars for its own use.

Indian Pipe plants completely lack chlorophyll, but are still plants.

Because Indian Pipe plants lack chlorophyll they are pale white in color.  This color has given them the alternate names of Ghost Plant and Corpse Plant.  Some populations of this plant are occasionally tinted pink.  As the plants age they may develop dark spots and a purple or brown tinge.

Indian Pipe plants may grow singly or in clumps.  Individual plants may be up to 12 inches tall with a single flower on each leafless stalk.  The flowers of Indian Pipe are bell shaped and nodding.  Once pollinated, the flowers turn upright.
Indian Pipe flowers turn upward once pollinated

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