Wildflowers of 2016 - #248 Cheerful Sunflower (Helianthus x laetiflorus)
My first flower of the day was one that stumped me during my Wildflowers of 2014 project. It was obviously a sunflower, but it didn't quite fit the descriptions of any of the sunflowers found on the Michigan Flora website. The description of the Stiff Sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus) mentioned a hybrid with Jerusalem Artichoke (H. tuberosus). This hybrid is known as the Cheerful Sunflower (Helianthus x laetiflorus). After researching this plant on several websites, I decided that this was probably my mystery sunflower.
|Cheerful Sunflower - a hybrid of Jerusalem Artichoke and Stiff Sunflower|
Cheerful Sunflower, which is also known as Hybrid Prairie Sunflower and Mountain Sunflower, is a perennial that reaches heights of 1 1/2 to 8 feet. It has opposite leaves. The leaves and stalk are both hairy. The stalk varies in color from green to purple.
Plants produce one to several flowers. The flowers consist of a central disc surrounded by 10 to 20+ rays (petals). The rays are bright yellow and the disc may be a darker yellow or brown or purplish.
|Cheerful Sunflower - a closer view of the flower|
Everything that I could find about this sunflower seemed to fit my mystery plants so I am calling it a Cheerful Sunflower. I almost didn't get the opportunity to find this plant this year. There is a single patch of it growing at Chipp-A-Waters Park. The city Park's Department has been using this location to dump soil and other debris this year and has partially covered this colony. Those plants that did manage to emerge through the soil, were significantly shorter than those I found in 2014.
Wildflowers of 2016 - #249 Sweet Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium)
|A colony of Sweet Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium)|
My second species of the day was Sweet Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium). Also known by the names Fragrant Cudweed and Old-field Balsam, this species is found throughout the southern two-thirds of the Lower Peninsula, around Grand Traverse Bay, and in six Upper Peninsula counties. Nationally, it can be found in every state east of line running from Minnesota to central Texas. It also native to the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.
|Sweet Everlasting - note whitish stems and flowers|
Sweet Everlasting prefers dry open habitats such as fields, prairies, and roadsides. It does not do well in locations with a lot of competition from other plants, but often forms extensive colonies where it is found. The plant can reach heights of 2 1/2 feet. It has both basal and alternate leaves. The stems and are grey-green or white in color and covered with short dense hairs. The narrow leaves are also hairy, with a greenish upper surface and a grey-green/white colored lower surface. The flowers of this plant grow in a flat-topped structure known as a corymb. Individual flowers are small (about 1/8 inch across), white, and lack petals.
|Sweet Everlasting flowers|
Wildflowers of 2016 - #250 Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum)
|Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum)|
My third flower of the day was Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum). This is one of many species of Michigan asters with small white flowers. In February 2014 I wrote a post about how to tell this species from other small, many-flowered Asters - please check here for more information.
|Frost Aster has many small white flowers and many small leaves|
Wildflowers of 2016 - #251 Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum urophyllum)
On Thursday, September 22nd I added one additional species to my list - Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum urophyllum). This species was formerly known as Aster sagittifolius.
|Arrow-leaved Asters and goldenrods at Mill Pond Park|
Arrow-leafed Aster plants grow from 1 to 3 feet in height. This plant is considered an "upland" species. It grows in dry soils in meadows, savannas, open woodlands and along woodland edges. It is found across the eastern half of the United States and into Ontario. In Michigan, it is found in most of the counties in the Lower Peninsula and in scattered locations in the Upper Peninsula.
|Arrow-leaved Aster growing on a dry wooded slope at Mill Pond Park|
As the plant's name suggests, its leaves are commonly shaped like arrowheads with a shallowly notched. The leaves may also be lanceolate (shaped like a lance head) or oval in shape. The margins of the leaves are lined with shallow serrations. The leaf petioles (stems) feature prominent wings.
|Leaf of an Arrow-leaved Aster - note winged stem|
The flowers of the Arrow-leaved Aster are typical of Asters, with a yellow (turning purple with age) central disc surrounded by short 8 to 15 short rays. The rays are typically white, but may on rare occasions be pale blue or lavender. The flowers are arranged in a narrow pyramid (or diamond) shaped panicle with branched that grow upward from the central stalk.
|A closer view of the Arrow-leaved Aster|
At this point the 2016 wildflower season is beginning to draw to a close. There are still many flowers blooming and they will continue to bloom until killed by frost, but few new species will be blooming. That being said, I still think that I can find two or three more new species with a little effort.