Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #221 through #225

Last Wednesday (17 August 2016), I took a trip to Mission Creek Woodland Park to search for late Summer/early Fall wildflowers.  Along the Creek Trail (Lowland loop), I found five new species to add to my Wildflowers of 2016 list.  Almost all of these species were growing within feet of the trail.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #221 Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

The first flower of the day was Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica).  This plant reaches heights of four feet and has lavender-blue to dark-blue tubular flowers.  It can be found in moist soils across much of the eastern two-thirds of the United States and Canada.

I wrote a profile of Great Blue Lobelia in November 2013 - please look here for more information.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #222 Flat-topped White Aster (Doellingeria umbellata)

The second flower of the day was my first Aster species of the year - Flat-topped White Aster (Doellingeria umbellata).  All aster species used to be lumped under the genus Aster, but they have been sorted into several different genera over the past decade.  The scientific name for this species used to be Aster umbellatus. Flat-topped White Aster is the only member of its genus found in Michigan.  It has a range from Alberta to Quebec south to Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.  The heart of its range is the Northeast and Great Lakes with smaller populations elsewhere.  It prefers moist, low places.

Flat-topped White Aster can grow to a height of 3 to 7 feet.  It has a single stem that branches at the top into a flat-topped flowering cluster.  The plant's leaves are arranged alternately along the stem.  The leaves are simple with smooth margins.  The leaves are oval-shaped and taper to a point at both ends.  The leaves do not have stalks.

The individual flowers of Flat-topped White Aster are 1/2 to 3/4 inches across.  The flat-topped clusters (panicles) can be several inches across.  Individual flowers are made up of a yellow center made of many disc flowers surrounded by a ring of 7 to 14 ray flowers (petals).  The centers fade to a purple color when pollinated.  These flowers bloom from late summer into fall. 

Wildflowers of 2016 - #223 Swamp Lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata)

The third flower of the day was Swamp Lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata).  This plant is also known as Swamp Betony.  As its name indicates, Swamp Lousewort grows in wet soils found along shorelines, swamps, wet meadows, etc..  It has been recorded in 25 states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.  There is a related species Wood Betony (P. Canadensis) that prefers dry soils.

Swamp Lousewort grows up to 2 1/2 feet tall.  It has has leaves that are mostly arranged in opposite pairs.  Each leaf may be up to 5 inches long and 1 1/4 inches wide.  The leaves are deeply lobed along their margins (pinnatefid) and resemble the leaves of ferns.

Swamp Lousewort flowers are arranged in a spike at the top of the plant.  The flowers are white or cream colored  and have a tubular shape with the top of the tube forming a upper lip or hood.  The individual flowers are approximately 3/4 inch long. This flower design limits the types of pollinators that can access the plant. 

Wildflowers of 2016 - #224 White Lettuce (Prenanthes alba)

The next species of the day was one that I missed in 2014 - White Lettuce (Prenanthes alba).  White lettuce is a native woodland species that is found across much of eastern North America, as far west as Saskatchewan and the Dakotas and as far south as Arkansas and North Carolina.  In Michigan, it is found throughout both the Upper and Lower Peninsula.

 To learn more about White Lettuce check out my species profile from September 2013.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #225 Common Water Horehound (Lycopus americanus)

The final flower of the day was Common Water Horehound (Lycopus americanus).  This native member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae) grows in wet soils along shorelines and streams, along the edges of marshes and swamps, and in other areas of low ground.  Also known as American Bugleweed, this species is found across most of North America south of the Canadian Arctic.

Common Water Horehound may reach heights of heights of up to 36 inches.  It has leaves arranged in opposite pairs.  The leaves are 1 3/4 to 3 inches long and have coarsely toothed margins.  The plant's small white flowers grow in a whorl at the leaf axils.

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