Monday, August 8, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #211 through #218

Last Thursday (04 August) I stopped at Mill Pond Park and found eight species to add to my  Wildflowers of 2016 list.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #211 Field Sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis)

The first species of the day is one of many that have flowers resembling those of dandelions.  Unlike dandelion plants, which are low growing, Field Sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis) plants may grow to be 7 feet tall, but are usually 2 1/2 to 3 feet.  This plant is not native to North America but has naturalized across the majority of the United States and Canada.

Field Sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis)

Field Sow-thistle has yellow flowers that look like those of dandelions.  The flower heads are 1 1/4 to 2 inches across and are composed entirely of  disc flowers with not rays (petals).  Each flower head is composed of between 150 and 300 individual ray flowers.  The flower heads are arranged in a flat panicle.

Field Sow-thistle flowers resemble those of dandelions

Field Sow-thistle - note open flower panicle with flowers in several different stages of bloom
The plant's leaves also look like those of dandelions, but have prickles at the tip of each lobe.  The base of each leaf has a pair of rounded lobes that clasp the plant's stem.  The leaves are normally found only on the lower half of the plant.

Field Sow-thistle - note prickles on leaf margins and clasping leaf base

Wildflowers of 2016 - #212 Spotted Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis)

The second species of the day, Spotted Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis) may grow up to five feet tall, but the ones that I photographed were about two feet tall.  This species can be found across the eastern United States, across Canada, and in the Pacific Northwest.  It is typically found in wetlands, along shorelines, and wet forests.  The tube-shaped flowers of this species are 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long and attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.  The flowers are orange with reddish-brown spots.  A closely related species Pale Touch-me-not (Impatiens pallida) has pale yellow flowers.

Spotted Touch-me-not (side view of the flower)

Spotted Touch-me-not - the flower's pistil and stamen can be seen at the top of the opening

For more information on Spotted Touch-me-not please look at this post from January 2013.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #213 Hedge-parsley (Torilis japonica)

My third species of the day did not appear on my 2014 list.  Hedge-parsley (Torilis japonica) is native of Europe that is quietly naturalizing across North America. Also known as Japanese Hedge-parsley or Erect Hedge-parsley, this species has been found in nineteen states and three Canadian provinces.  In Michigan it has been recorded in twenty-five colonies, but is probably more widespread.  It is normally found in disturbed areas such as trails, roadsides, fields, etc..

Hedge-parsley - note flower umbels

Hedge-parsley is a member of the Carrot family (Apiaceae).  Like other members of the Apiaceae, it has small white flowers that grow on umbels (branching, flat-topped clusters).  The individual flowers of Hedge-parsely are small (1/4 inch), while the umbels may measure up to 2 inches across.  The plant has compound leaves that measure up to 2.5 inches long.  Plants are less than 3 feet tall.

Hedge-parsley - note hairy stems and leaves

Wildflowers of 2016 -#214 Ditch Stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides)

Ditch Stonecrop (Penthorum sedoides) is another wetland species, growing on the borders of streams and ponds, in marshes, and in other muddy habitats. This plant is found across eastern North America with several small, presumably introduced populations in the Pacific Northwest.

Ditch Stonecrop - note small cream-colored flowers

Ditch Stonecrop typically grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet.  It has narrow oval shaped leaves that are 2-4 inches long.  The leaves are arranged alternately on the stem.  The plant's flowers grow on a raceme - this means that individual flowers all grow on short stalks off an elongated stem with flowers growing from the base of the stem blooming before those at the top.  The racemes may be 1-3 inches long, but individual flowers only measure about 1/4 inch across.  The flowers are cream colored, with red fruit growing after pollination.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #215 Mild Water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiperoides)

A colony of Mild Water-pepper

Mild Water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiperoides) is another species that did not appear on my 2014 list. This one of several Water-pepper or Smartweed species that can be found in Michigan.  I determined this was Mild Water-pepper by the short (less than 3 inches), erect flower spikes and individual flowers with 5 white or pink petals.  Leaves on this species are arranged alternately and measure 2 to 4 inches long.  Plants grow up to 3 feet tall.

A wasp feeds on nectar from a Mild Water-pepper - note five petals on flowers

Mild Water-pepper is considered an obligate wetland species (meaning it is found nearly always in wetlands.  This species has been recorded across most of the United States and the lower parts of Canada.  Many sources list this species as Polygonum hydropiperoides.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #216 Southern Water-plantain (Alisma subcordatum)

Southern Water Plantain (Alisma subcordatum) is an emergent wetland species.  It grows in shallow water in streams, ponds, lakes, ditches, marshes, etc.  It can be found throughout the southern half of Michigan.  Overall it has a range that covers most of eastern North America from Manitoba south to Texas.  Additional populations are found in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Oregon.

Southern Water Plantain - note basal leaves and flower stalks

Southern  Water Plantain plants have a basal cluster of oval shaped leaves on long stalks.  These leaves measure up to six inches long.  A flower stalk grows up from the central cluster.  This single stalk then branches many times forming a structure called a panicle.  The plants flowers grow on the tips of the many small branches of the panicle.  Although the whole flowering panicle may be three feet tall, the individual flowers are small, measuring 1/8 - 1/4 inch across.

Southern Water Plantain - note small (1/8 to 1/4 inch) flowers

The closely related Northern Water Plantain (A. subcordatum) has larger flowers that measure 1/4 - 3/8 inch across and larger leaves measuring up to 14 inches.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #217 Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis) did not appear on my Wildflowers of 2014 list.  I typically find this species in a single location in Mill Pond Park and it did not appear in either 2014 or 2015.  I assumed that the plant had probably died so I was pleasantly surprised to find it growing in the same spot this year.
Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

This wetland species is found throughout the Lower Peninsula and a few locations in the southern part of the Upper Peninsula.  It has been recorded in every state south and east of a line running from Minnesota to southern California (forty-one states total).

Cardinal-flower - red flowers are pollinated almost exclusively by hummingbirds

This routinely reaches a height of 2 to 6 feet.  It has alternate leaves that measure up to about six inches long.  Its most distinguishing feature is its erect flower raceme.  Individual flowers measure 1.25 to 1 3/4 inches and the raceme can be up to 20 inches tall.  The flowers are partly fused into a tube with three petals hanging downward and two spreading to the sides.  These flower are typically bright red (the same color as a cardinal), but are occasionally white.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #218 Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)

Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)

The final flower of the day was another that did not appear on my 2014 list - in this case I found numerous plants, but never one in bloom.  Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) is an emergent wetland species found throughout most of North America.  The plant is named after its arrowhead-shaped leaves.  This species is also known as Duck Potato.  To learn more, click here.

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