Thursday, August 8, 2019

Bloomlist for Aug. 8 and 15, 2019

    Aug. 8th's bloomlist for Wildflower Island is at the end of the post, Aug. 15th's is in the
    sidebar. Bonnie's pictures for Aug. 8th HERE, Aug. 15th HERE.
    Peterson names are used for consistency wherever possible, and comments and clarifications
    are welcome in the comments section. 
Am away.  Next new post Aug. 22nd.

I have to begin with this piece of dramatic art....   I mean, why would one need to see a live dance performance when you can see this beauty out on the Island.

Before coming to the Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) above, a couple of things to mention. Just as you step onto the Island, there's a bunch of Dodder over on the left of the path near the water. A friend of mine wrote me this morning that if I ever thought this plant was boring, I should check out: Dodder: Parasite & Gene Thief Extraordinaire. It's mostly science, but here's the new kernel of surprising info:
Apparently dodder steals more than just water and nutrients from their hosts. They also steal genetic material. 
Here's Bonnie's photo of a colony of it, which I now look at with totally different eyes.

I've given up with the Goldenrod at no. 31 for the moment, but it's not Early Goldenrod. Maybe Elm-leaved, but in the shade not looking as elm-leaved as I'd like it to be.

Am also still having trouble with Joe-Pye-weed.  The plant at no. 27 really looks like the Spotted variety (Eutrochium maculata), but no. 28 (below) has a much paler cluster, a glaucous greenish stem, and doesn't have the black spots, so we put both varieties on the list. This one may just be younger, we'll have to wait and see.

Here's a great close-up of the Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) out in the lake.

Several things caught our eye in The Woods. First, the ants and aphids infesting this new White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) in the picture on the left. I thought the white round things were eggs, but virtually the same picture can be found in the picture on the right (at this link), which labels it "ants and aphids."


The splendid grass I couldn't identify out by the Bird Blind has continued to bloom beautifully, and I now think it's Sweet Wood-reed (Cinna arundinaceae). Put your hand in that patch and you'll get scratched, but not from this grass. We think it's from the Cutgrass in the same patch, which blooms later into the fall.

I will be away for a couple of weeks, so wanted to let people know that the field of Swamp Rose-mallow at Croton Landing is fully in bloom. This was taken there with a Smartphone, thus the size.....

and below is our first bloom on the island.



Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bloomlist for Aug. 1, 2019

    This week's bloomlist for Wildflower Island is at the end of the post, and Bonnie's pictures
    can be found HERE. Peterson names are used for consistency wherever possible, and comments
    and clarifications are welcome in the comments section.

It's that time of the year, again, and here's the first one on the of the season (and on the Island): Early Goldenrod (Solidago juncea). It's identified not only by its general shape — plumelike — but by the tiny leaflets in the axils of the toothless upper leaves. No hairs.

A new one for me (but not for Mary, whose familiarity with the Island goes back decades) is the Seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia), which cropped up in the swamp at no.33. I'm kind of fascinated by the wide sepals and squarish pods, both noted in the Peterson description. There are two good examples of sepals no petals (which have fallen off) in the bottom left of the picture below, and you can see the square seedpod in the center of the picture, to the left of the yellow bloom.

We spent a fair amount of time with the Joe-Pyes today, but I'm only satisfied with some of our conclusions. The Spotted Joe-Pye-weed (Eutrochium maculatum), in Bonnie's picture on the left and no. 27 on the map, is easy: it has black marks on the stem (screenshot on the right from GoBotany). Supposedly, the cluster of this variety is rather flatter than the others.

Here's Bonnie's picture of the other kind we saw, which has a smooth glaucous stem with none of those dark striations. There's one of them at no.28 on the map and in amongst the Herb-Roberts near the upper parking lot. The cluster at the top of this one is more domed. What we were unwilling to do was cut the stem of one of these tall plants to see whether the inside is Hollow JPW (fistulosum) or not, which would lead us more in the direction of Sweet JPW (E. purpureum), but not necessarily ...

With the Goldenrods come the Asters, and the first one we've seen this season might be the Wavy-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum undulatum), whose leaves have flanged petioles or "dilate into lobes clasping the stem," as Peterson says (see the examples in the right side of the picture below). Some of the leaves have a wavy edge, and some have more toothing than others. I originally thought this might be Lowrie's Aster (S. lowrieanum), but the leaves of the Lowrie's are supposed to be greasy. These are definitely not.

On the left of the Bird Blind boardwalk is a grass that I thought last week was the inflorescence of the Rice Cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides). The Cutgrass is there and continues to be very scratchy, but it's not in bloom. It is totally intermixed with a very smooth grass that is in bloom as you can see in the picture left, but which I can't identify. Just a few feet further on, Bonnie got a cool close-up of the prickly stem of the Halberd-leaved Tearthumb (below).

Lastly, a reminder that you can sign up for Rick Bunting's daily spectacular photos of flora and fauna using the link in the right sidebar. I'm including here a couple of his recent shots of insect camouflages. He swears there's a caterpillar in each one of these blooms:



Thursday, July 25, 2019

Bloomlist for July 25, 2019

    This week's bloomlist for Wildflower Island is at the end of the post, and Bonnie's pictures
    can be found HERE. Peterson names are used for consistency wherever possible, and comments
    and clarifications are welcome in the comments section.

    Revised a bit below in the discussion of the Cutgrass.

Down the path through The Woods to the gatehouse a tall Common Burdock (Arctium minus), more beautiful the closer you look at it. The Illinois Wildflower webpage says it's a "low-growing rosette of basal leaves during the first year" that becomes 3–6 feet tall the second year. That's where we start with this plant. The pink part of the flower is a mass of disk florets, and unlike daisies and other composites, there aren't any ray florets. White stiles with bifurcated tips protrude from the florets, and the spiny green bulges beneath all that are actually bracts. Their tips are all hooked, which Bonnie was able to catch in the enlarged photo.

Also in The Woods today was the first Tall Bellflower(Campanula americana) we've seen in a long time, if ever. (I've never seen one actually, but I haven't been at this as long as some of the others guides.) It was left of the path just as you enter The Woods from the upper parking lot.

What's neat about this is again the style, which bends downward and away from the flower head ("S-shaped in open flowers," according to Missouri). The stigma has 3 lobes at the tip. Missouri has excellent close-up shots of this plant, including a "vegetative rosette" at the base of the plant (see right), which I unfortunately didn't know to look for today.

The taxonomy seems a little unsettled. Wiki says that USDA and some others think the correct name for this is Campanulastrum americanum, but the last paragraph of the Illinois Wildflowers description indicates two separate species.

The unidentified grass at the Bird Blind for the past couple of weeks (below) is mixed in with Rice Cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), whose whose leaves are really scratchy and you'd never want to walk through a patch of these unprotected.

You can just about make out the scratchy edges of Cutgrass leaves in the blown-up part of Bonnie's picture above. I don't think the unidentified grass is really "in bloom" yet, as there aren't any white stigmas emerging from the florets, but it's good to keep an eye on it.

In Illinois's picture on the right, you can see a hairy node on the stem and some more of that serration on the edge of the leaf.

We just noticed that Peterson lists two kinds of Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria and L. virgatum. Ours looks like the former, because all the plants we could get close to today were downy and had sessile leaves wide at the base. Virgatum is smooth, and the leaves are narrower at the base. Yet another thing to look for when you think this is getting easier.

Many of the tiny-flowered plants have now started to bloom, like Clearweed, Dodder, and Halberd-leaved Tearthumb.

And speaking of tiny flowers, there's a few remaining blooms on the Bedstraw at no. 13, which I believe is Rough Bedstraw (Galium asprellum). Earlier this month we thought we had Fragrant Bedstraw in that spot because the plant felt smooth to the touch. The stem and edges of the leaves of the Rough Bedstraw are scratchy, as in the close-up of Bonnie's picture below. But not many flowers today.

Delightful on the Island today were some new American Bur-reeds, which we thought were done for the season. I don't remember them popping up a second time after an initial flowering period of several weeks. Maybe it has more to do with the water level in the lake than the temperature or humidity in the air.

Duckweed (genus Lemna) in veritable carpets today. Its nutritional merits described so well at this link.

And saving the best for last, we loved that the Plumleaf Azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum) hung in there for us after all its relations decided it was time to get on with things for the year.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Bloomlist for July 18, 2019

    This week's bloomlist for Wildflower Island is at the end of the post, and Bonnie's pictures (from
    July 11th) can be found HERE. Peterson names are used for consistency wherever possible,
    and comments and clarifications are welcome in the comments section.

We couldn't take pictures today because the list was done in the rain, but there are still a few things to say, and the comments relating to Virginia Stickseed and the insect-infested Yellow Loosestrife in my July 15th post are still relevant.

I have put Sweetflag (Acorus calamus) on the list today to help clarify whether it's blooming or not. Apparently not, as the whole spadix of the one on the map at no. 27 has turned tawny brown. Comparing it to the flowering stage shown in the Illinois picture on the left, our sample doesn't look as if it's blooming any longer. 

Below is diagram of the structure of these Arum plants (credit to E.M. Armstrong at the Palomar site), a webpage that has quite a few diagrams of flower structures and terminology.

Another one I'm having trouble with is Bartonia (Bartonia virginica), which for the third week I'm expecting to "flower," but it still looks in bud — if it's Bartonia in the first place, and if those bud-looking protuberances are really buds. Below left is a fuzzy picture of it from July 4th, and below right is a flowering version of it from GoBotany. The very small flowers look bigger in the picture than on the plant itself. The whole thing is about 8 inches tall.

I'll try to get a better look at this next week, because I want to exclude the possibility it's a Bartonia paniculata, called Twining Screwstem in GoBotany and not described in Peterson. 

With her cellphone and in spite of the rain, Rachel got nice pictures of a Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) in The Woods and the soon-to-blossom Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis) on the Island.



Monday, July 15, 2019

Notes from the past 10 days

I was away last week for the bloomlist, but a few things have accumulated that I wanted to mention.

1. On July 4th, we took a picture of a "weed" in The Woods that Mary had identified a few years ago as Virginia Stickseed (Hackelia Virginiana). I wasn't sure this one above was the same plant because I only saw single flowers at the ends of short branches. It seems these branchings develop with age into longer branches of small flowers, as shown in GoBotany's picture below right.

Mary suggested that the spots on the leaves are powdery mildew, which a Wiki entry describes this way:
. . . one of the easier plant diseases to identify, as its symptoms are quite distinctive. Infected plants display white powdery spots on the leaves and stems. The lower leaves are the most affected, but the mildew can appear on any above-ground part of the plant. As the disease progresses, the spots get larger and denser as large numbers of asexual spores.
In any case, we didn't see any of this plant at all on Sunday the 14th, so maybe Teatown is pulling it.

2. I tried to unfold the contorted, seemingly diseased Yellow Loosestrife inflorescences that I mentioned in the July 4th post — see the picture — and found accumulations of cotton-like puffs pulling the leaves in towards the center of the plant. I can't identify the bugs, but according to Illinois Wildflowers, the ones that like to feast on this plant are the Sawfly, a Weevil, and the Poplar Vagabond Gall and the Polyphagous Foxglove aphids. Maybe someone can carry this investigation further . . .

3.  At Open Gate day on Sunday, we noticed a few other blooms, a couple of which might have been open on the 11th.  A single Purple Loosestrife showed up in the middle of the lake on the right side of the bridge walking onto the Island. There was False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) on the edge of the lake just before the Mountain Laurel section and very possibly the Bartonia (Bartonia virginica) in the same area was starting to bloom — those florets are really small and hard to see if open. The same Sweetflag (Acorus calamus) seemed to be still in bloom in the little swamp, and in The Woods there was a small patch of Wild Leeks (Allium tricoccum) in amongst the May-apples outside the gatehouse.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Bloomlist for July 11, 2019

    No notes on the bloomlist this week, as I am away, but Bonnie's pictures can be found HERE.
    Peterson names are used for consistency wherever possible.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Bloomlist July 4, 2019

    This week's bloomlist for Wildflower Island is at the end of the post, and Bonnie's pictures
    can be found HERE. Peterson names are used for consistency wherever possible, and comments
    and clarifications are welcome in the comments section.

Wow, does the Northeastern Rose (Rosa nitida) love its environment this week. These were near the birdblind, but the one on the Island, which we thought we had lost to the beavers, is also blooming on the edge of the lake. And catch another one of them just as you step onto the bridge to the Island out of the gatehouse, on the left behind the Buttonbush (which are not yet blooming).

Across from it is that Azalea-type shrub I still can't identify from last week, still blooming — see right. I think the leaves are too narrow, and maybe the stamens too short, for the Swamp Azalea, but it's more open this week (right). By the way, a slug is enjoying the tube of the bloom at 4 o'clock.

A close-up of the Swamp's rounder leaves on the GoBotany site left, which match all of the leaves on our Island's Swamps.

In that same area is one tiny little bit of Climbing Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), which we thought the beavers had entirely obliterated.

The Island is decked out in Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata, below left), and I love Bonnie's picture of the American Bur-reed (Sparganium americanum) peeking through the other swamp greenery (below right).

What looks like Cleavers or Madder at no.9 is probably Fragrant Bedstraw (Galium triflorum). Apart from the smooth stems that do not cling, there are 4 white petals, whorls of 6 chubby leaves and groups of 3 blooms. According to GoBotany, the fragrance comes from the dried leaves, which smell like vanilla. Gotta try that out. 
Check a possible Bartonia (Bartonia virginica) below left, which I put at no.22, and for that strangely contorted group of what I think are Swamp Candles right next to it. I had expected these to unfold by this time, but they never did. So are they what I think they are? Have they been disturbed by something botanically hurtful, or are they a different variety of this Loosestrife? Help would be good on this one. 


Also check for Indian-pipe (Monotropa uniflora), which we didn't notice today but was there last week.

Just as you enter The Woods from the upper parking lot, there's a wonderful grass, which I think is Bottlebrush (Elymus hystrix), described by GoBotany here.  Didn't have my graminoid books with me, so I'm working from what Bonnie caught in her picture.

There's some Honewort still blooming up there next to it, though the rest of the patch that's more visible from the path has pretty much gone to seed.

Catching the early morning sun were some Spotted Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis) by the birdblind boardwalk. In Bonnie's fabulous picture of them, you can actually see sap oozing from the points on the leaves. That's why you're supposed to rub this plant on your hands if you accidentally touch poison ivy or nettles. According to the Forest Service, this plant 
. . . has a long history of use in Native American medicine. When applied topically, sap from the stem and leaves is said to relieve itching and pain from a variety of ailments, including hives, poison ivy, stinging nettle, and other skin sores and irritations. The sap has also been shown to have anti-fungal properties and can be used to treat athlete’s foot.
Urushiol is the name of the annoying sap in poison ivy and sumac, among others.

Hello to the Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata), which is blooming more than a week earlier than in more than 5 years, according to our notes. I think the Curled Dock has pretty much gone to seed, though I've included it in the Highlights.

A note about Hairy-rosette Panicgrass mentioned in the past couple of weeks but gone to seed by now. The plant is mostly hairy — stems and leaves —  but as shown in the picture below, grabbed from a Virginia Tech post, the top surfaces of the leaves are actually hairless.


I'm throwing in something here that we didn't see on the Island or in The Woods today, but you might run across them around these parts. Both Quackgrass (or Couch Grass, Elymus repens) and Perennial Rye (Lolium perenne) have a single, narrow inflorescence at the top of the stem*, but note the striking positioning of the florets in relation to that stem. In the Rye, each little floret is lying in the same plane as the stem, as if you stepped on the thing and flattened it out, while in the Quackgrass, the back of the floret, which is still flat, faces the stem. The picture of the positioning is captured so well in this Eurofins webpage above right, but there are some other great close-ups at Life on an Oxfordfordshire Lawn and GoBotany.
* I should be using the term "culm" for the stem, but this blog is not meant to be too techy.
Here below are three samples from my street. The little florets of the two Rye cuttings on the left are opening flat in the same plane as the culms. The florets in the Quackgrass on the right are also opening flat, but they lie against the culm, not perpendicular to it.