Monday, September 5, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #235 through #237

Earlier this week I made two trips to different areas of Mill Pond Park to collect leaves and photograph wildflowers.  One Monday (29 August) I found two new species for my 2016 list and on Tuesday (30 August) I added one additional species, bringing my year's total to two hundred thirty-seven species.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #235 Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

My first flower was growing along the edge of the Chippewa River near the Leaton St. parking lot.  Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) did not appear on my 2014 list - I am pretty sure that I saw these plants in 2014, but misidentified them as Pale-leaved Sunflower (H. strumosus).

Jerusalem Artichoke growing along the Chippewa River at Mill Pond Park

Misidentifying sunflowers is not difficult to do.  Both of these species grow tall (3 to 8+ ft.).  Both species have many composite flower heads composed of a yellow disc surrounded by rays - 8 to 15 for the Rough-leaves Sunflower, 10 to 20 for the Jerusalem Artichoke.  The flowers of Rough-leaved Sunflower measure 1.25 to 4 inches across; Jerusalem Artichoke flowers measure 2 to 3.5 inches across.

Jerusalem Artichoke flowers have a central disc surrounded by 10 to 20 yellow rays

Both Rough-leaved Sunflower and Jerusalem Artichoke have large leaves (4 to 10 inches long) with rough surfaces and toothed margins.  They differ in the fact that Rough-leaves Sunflower leaves are either stalkless or have very short stalks.  Jerusalem Artichoke leaves have stalks up to 3 inches long.  Another critical difference between the two plants is that the stalks of Rough-leaved Sunflower are smooth, while this plant had hairy stalks (a characteristic of Jerusalem Artichoke).

Jerusalem Artichoke - note large stalked leaves and hairy stem

Jeusalem Artichoke prefers wet soils found in floodplains and riverbanks, but can survive in drier soils.  It is often cultivated for its edible starchy roots, and escapes cultivation.  In Michigan it has mainly been recorded in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula and the western UP.  It has a wide national distribution (45 states plus seven Canadian provinces), but is most common in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #236 Purplestem Beggar-ticks (Bidens connata)

Purplestem Beggar-ticks (Bidens connata) can be found throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada as far south as Alabama and Georgia and as far west as central Nebraska.  It has been recorded in all but nine of Michigan's counties.  Purplestem Beggar-ticks are normally found in wetland habitats such as shorelines, swamps, wet meadows, marshes, etc..

Purplestem Beggar-ticks surrounded by other wetland species

Purplestem Beggar-ticks can grow to heights of greater than 3 feet.  Their stems can be either purple (as the name suggests) or green.  Leaves are arranged  in opposite pairs along the stem.  The leaves are sharply pointed, have toothed margins, and can be as long as 8 inches.

The plant's flowers are arranged in groups of 1 to 3 at the ends of the stems.  The flowers are yellow-green and composed of a central disc that usually lacks rays (petals).  If rays are present they are small and few in number.  These ray-less flower are 1/4 to 3/4 inches across.  After these flowers are pollinated, they will develop seeds with four spikes growing off of one end.  These spikes stick the fur or feathers of animals that come in contact with them, pulling the seeds free from the flowerhead and dispersing them away from the parent plant.

Purplestem Beggar-tick flowers are composed of a central disc (usually) lacking rays

Wildflowers of 2016 - #237 False Buckwheat (Fallopia scandens)

My only find of Tuesday 30 August was a new species that did not appear on my Wildflowers of 2014 list.   False Buckwheat (Fallopia scandens) is a native species that is found throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada.  In Michigan, it has been recorded in thirty-eight counties in the Lower Peninsula and in Gogebic County in the far western UP.  This species is sometimes listed as Polygonum scandens.  I am using Fallopia scandens because that is how Michigan Flora lists it.

False Buckwheat - note twining vines and heart-shaped leaves
False Buckwheat grows as a climbing or trailing vine up to 20 feet long.  It has heart-shaped or oval leaves that grow up to 5 inches long and are arranged alternately along the vine.  False Buckwheat flowers are small (less than 1/4 inch), have five petals, and are arranged on racemes (elongated clusters) that rise vertically from leaf axils.  Once pollinated, the flowers are replaced by winged fruit.

False Buckwheat - note small white flowers and winged fruits

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