Sunday, September 22, 2019

Last blog post til spring

This blog is on hiatus for until mid-April when Wildflower Island re-opens, but you might want to continue enjoying the treasures of the natural world by signing up for Rick Bunting's short, daily and spectacular photojournalistic newsletters.

He sent the Monarch on the right this morning. It takes your breath away.

The link is always in the sidebar, but here it is again:

As for Teatown, it's open all year, and here's some links that will keep you connected with this wonderful preserve in our "neck of the woods."
Hiking, maps, hours, parking:

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Bloomlist for Sept. 12, 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.
This post has been REVISED —
    a couple of times (!).

This is the last post for the season, so we say good-bye to all the glorious flowers we saw this summer, even if today we only got the merest sampling ... Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis), ...

Blanketing the lake today were the Bur-marigolds, almost looking like Sunflowers. I think these are the Nodding species (Bidens cernua) rather than the Smooth (B. laevis), which are supposedly coastal. The flowerheads face downwards as they age.

So out of character hiding in the shadows at no.13 was a single False Dragonhead today (Physostegia virginiana), but some of the many in bud should open by the last Open Gate day this weekend.

The Asters and Goldenrods continuing to confuse, but there are some new ones blooming this week that I won't try to ID. Look for yellows, whites, and blue-lavenders types. And some flowers we thought were gone for the season have come back, like Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum).

Out in The Woods, the Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) was definitely in bloom, in patches next to the White Cutgrass, which is almost done.

At no.22 was the largest patch of Indian-pipe (Monotropa uniflora) we've ever seen in one spot. Try not to miss it, as it is so unusual.

There was a strange covering on the mushroom left, and fungus specialist Leon Shernoff was able to tell us what it is: Troll Dog fungus (Syzygites megalocarpus). The cap was still firmly in the ground, engulfed by the fibrous stuff engulfed. More info here.

We didn't get a picture of the Arrow-leaved Tearthumb (Persicaria sagittata) today over by the birdblind, but I found Bonnie's shot of it from 2017 (below).  The leaves of this species are narrower than those of the Halberd-leaved (P. arifolia), and they extend past the stem, almost clasping. See GoBotany's pictures at this link.

Also by the birdblind is a patch of Nodding (Pale) Smartweed. Unlike Mild Water-pepper (P. hydropiperoides), the sheaths of the Pale species have no hairs and the tips of the inflorescences bend over rather than stand erect.

This is a picture of the sheath from Minnesota.

We noticed an infant Tulip-tree on the left about 2/3 of the way down the stone steps from the parking left. It has huge leaves for its size and looks sturdy, so it's going to be fun to see how much height it gains by next year.

This is the last post for the season, so we say good-bye to all the glorious flowers we saw this summer, even if today we only got the merest sampling ... Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis), ...

and lots more ...

(and by the way, I tried to open the tip of these today and couldn't see any extruding, so am thinking this is the species Gentiana clausa (see GoBotany's description, which is a bit technical). Up til now, we've been thinking it was G. andrewsii.

By next week the whole Island should be decorated with the fairy blooms of White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima).

The picture is from Minnesota Wildflowers, but see Ten Random Facts for a heads-up about his beguiling plant with some hidden secrets.

I leave you with some pictures of the ever- inscrutable asters and goldenrods ...


Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bloomlist for Sept. 5, 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.
Slightly revised below in red.

Such color today, but because the Island is mostly shaded, we don't usually get blankets of strong colors as in sunlit parks. Here's what Peterson call the Red Turtlehead (though it's pink).

The close-up on the below left shows the two lips of the corolla. Illinois Wildflowers says the upper lip is for protection, the lower lip acts as a landing pad for insects. Below right is the white species, which Peterson calls just plain Turtlehead (Chelone glabra).

A word about the Closed Gentian, which is either Gentiana andewsii or G. clausa. The petals of both of these remain closed, but in the Andrewsii, the tips of these corollas show a white fringe slightly extruding from between the petals. The G. clausa doesn't have this membranous material.  We should check up on this next week to see if we can really see the fringe, or if this is just a whitish coloration of the tip. Good description of this flower at Illinois. UPDATED Sept.12:  I tried to open the tip of one of these and couldn't see a fringe.  Am now thinking G. clausa.         

Nobody would fault you for believing it's Christmas season when you see the berries of the Spikenard (Trifolium repens).

Representing yellow this week is what I believe is a patch of Nodding Bur-marigolds (Bidens cernua) out by the bird blind. Its petals are not as big and showy as in the Smooth species (B. laevis), which I don't think we have in our lake.  The flower heads of the Nodding species tend to face downward as they mature, and the center disk gets bigger.

It was definitely mushroom week out on the Island, but I don't think I've seen this group before, the Yellow-finger Coral mushroom or Golden Spindles (Clavulinopsis fusiformis).

As for the creamier flowers, there's still a few Pale Touch-me-nots (Impatiens pallida) blooming in The Woods:

and an aster that I'm pretty sure about this time, the Small White one (Symphyotrichum racemosum), which is distinctive for its longer, narrow leaves meeting up at the axils with groups of smaller ones. A lot of the buds in the picture below aren't open yet, so the plant is less crowded looking than when in full bloom.

The Mild Water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiperoides) in the picture below shows several identifying features of this smartweedspecies: it's white, there are hair-like bristles emerging from the sheaths as in the bottom right-hand corner of the picture below, and the more or less interrupted nature of the inflorescences.

Wonderfully camouflaged out in The Woods was this Katydid just waiting to be photographed.

I think it might be a round-headed Katydid (genus: Amblycorypha), maybe even the False Katydid or Bush Cricket, mentioned in Michael Raupp's Bug in the Night blog. In Bonnie's picture above, you can see the thicker foreleg, which is used for jumping. I can't see any antennae in the picture, but those of the Katydid are at least as long as their body. Jimini's blog tells you how to differentiate Katydids from Crickets. Katydid legs are in line with the body, cricket lets are perpendicular.

Here's Dr. Raupp's enchanting description of how the sound is made – and heard!
Like other members of the Orthoptera clan such as crickets we met in previous episodes, katydids produce sound with their forewings. One wing bears a structure called the scraper, which is pulled across a complementary structure called the file on the other forewing. The resultant vibrations produce a wonderful song with which the six-legged troubadour woos his mate. The female katydid hears the song of the male through small openings, ears if you like, on her front legs. The sound enters through the slits and is amplified in a hornlike chamber within the leg. A membrane inside acts much like our eardrum and captures the sound. Sensory cells attached to the membrane pickup these vibrations and the female katydid’s tiny brain decides if he’s giving her good vibrations or not.
See the white specks on the front legs of Bonnie's picture (above right)?  Those must be the this lady's ears.

I got this bit of sound from the YouTube channel NaturesFairy.

Lastly, this reminder of the difference between White Cutgrass and Japanese Stiltgrass.  I haven't seen any Stiltgrass yet this season.


Friday, August 30, 2019

Bloomlist for Aug. 29, 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.

The Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) is so gorgeous, though as usual, it's in the lake and you have to look past the fence to see them.

Doing the bloomlist was great today because we got mentored by Charlie Roberto on various butterflies and insects on some of the plants in The Woods. The most exciting thing was the caterpillar of the Spicebush Swallowtail, resembling a small snake (below left). Yummy. It secretes enough sticky stuff to hold a folded leaf of the Spicebush (or in this case, a young Sassafras tree) over on itself for protection. In a previous stage (below right), the caterpillar looks like black bird poop, which is another kind of protection. Not so yummy.


Other stages of this caterpillar and the beautiful butterfly it turns into can be seen on this Gardens with Wings webpage. So if you see a leaf on a shrub that seems to be folded over, it's quite possible an insect has pasted itself into the fold for protection.  Neat.

Another picture from the lesson was an example of an "aphid farm," in this case, the Woolly Aphid.

We saw ants and bees actually caring for this stretch of aphids on the branch on the right, behavior explained in Wiki thus:
Some species of ants farm aphids, protecting them on the plants where they are feeding, and consuming the honeydew the aphids release ... a mutualistic relationship, with these dairying ants milking the aphids by stroking them with their antennae.  Although mutualistic, the feeding behavior of aphids is altered by ant attendance. Aphids attended by ants tend to increase the production of honeydew in smaller drops with a greater concentration of amino acids.

Gorgeous photos from Bonnie include the Closed Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) and the carpets of young Straw-colored Flatsedge in the lake.

This close-up of the New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) on the Island captured a couple of Silver-spotted Skippers. 

Rick Bunting just told us about this butterfly in a recent photo newsletter (which you can sign up for by contacting him at the address in the sidebar).

No. 25 on the Island might be Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora).  The leaves are not toothed and smell like anise.

I think The Woods may have three or four kinds of Asters, but ID'ing them is a perennial problem for me, and here's why.

The White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricatus) right has properly stalked, strongly serrated leaves and sparsely rayed flowers, as in Bonnie's picture this week on the right. There's a better picture of the leaf stems here.

Schreber's Aster (Eurybia schreberi), according to Peterson and many other sources, has a broad angular notch on the basal leaves, see below from GoBotanyBut GoBotany's pictures of the White Wood Aster leaves (here) have the same kind of broad notching. Is that a mistake?

Then there's what seems to be Lowrie's Aster (Symphyotrichum lowrieanum). Peterson says the wing or flanging on the petiole is distinctive, as in Bonnie's picture below right.

A month ago we thought we were looking at Wavy-leaved Asters (Symphyotrichum undulatum), whose leaves flare out and actually clasp the stem, as in the picture below left from Native Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia.

Peterson puts the Wavy-leaved in the blue section and the Lowrie's in the white. We never saw any true blue asters this whole season.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Bloomlist for Aug. 8, 15 and 22, 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, Aug. 22nd 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. 29th.

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.