I want to encourage you to leave comments. We are amateurs and I'm sure we make mistakes in the identity of some of the flowers. We are photographers first and botanist second. I do hope you enjoy the photography. Click on any picture to make it larger.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fairy Wand (Chamaelirium luteum)

Photographic Location: Short Springs State Natural Area

Another wildflower from our day trip to Short Springs State Natural Area

This flower is in the Lily Family (Liliaceae). It is also known as Devil's Bit, which relates that the Devil bit off the end of the root for spite, and if it were not for the Devil, the plant would be of some use to humans.

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

American Ipecac, Indian Physic (Gillenia stipulata)

Photographic Location: Short Springs State Natural Area

Rosaceae Family

Here is another plant from our day trip to Short Springs State Natural Area. Common name of Indian physic is in reference to a former medicinal use of this plant's powdered roots as an emetic by Native Americans.

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

White Milkweed (Asclepias variegata)

Photographic Location: Short Springs State Natural Area

Judy and I had a great day at Short Springs State Natural Area. Short Springs is a 420-acre natural area located in Coffee County approximately three and a half miles northeast of Tullahoma. The natural area provides an excellent contrast between Highland Rim and Central Basin geology and vegetation. When descending along the Machine Falls trail, a visitor can observe exposed black Chattanooga shale at mid-slope, which is a formation that delineates the Central Basin from the Highland Rim. Thickets of mountain laurel grow on the upper slopes under a dry oak-hickory forest canopy that is characteristic of Highland Rim vegetation. The lower slopes and riparian areas along Bobo Creek support towering sycamore, buckeye, magnolia, beech, and tulip poplar trees with a rich shrub layer and herbaceous cover.

This flower is in the
Asclepiadaceae Family (Milkweed Family). It has very showy flowers and it should be cultivated more often. The flowers are mostly white, except for a narrow purple ring between the petals and the hooded corona. Because of this it is sometimes called Variegated Milkweed. This is the source of another common name, Red-Ring Milkweed.

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

American Columbo (Frasera caroliniensis) 2

Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glade
This is one of my favorite wildflowers mainly because it is so different. American Columbo is a monocarpic perennial, meaning it flowers once after multiple seasons, and then dies. When it reaches the flowering stage, the leaves develop in whorls on an elongated stem, and approximately 50 to 100 flowers will develop a panicle, with the fruits maturing soon after.

Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glade
  For more information about this wildflower, Click Here or for previous post on this plant, Click Here.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Scentless Mock Orange (Philadelphus inodorus L)

My wife Judy and I recently went on a day trip to Savage Gulf State Natural Area. Savage Gulf is 15,590-acre natural area located in Grundy and Sequatchie Counties. Carved like a giant crowfoot into the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau, it is one of Tennessee's most scenic wilderness areas. Its sheer sandstone cliffs and rugged canyons provide extraordinary views.

On our 4 mile hike, I spotted this beautiful flowering shrub. Scentless Mock Orange is a member of the Hydrangea Family (Hydrangeaceae). It derives its name from the pealing orange bark when mature.
Photographic Location: Savage Gulf State Natural Area

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Smooth Meadow Parsnip (Thaspium trifoliatum L)

 
Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glades in Rutherford County TN.

Smooth Meadow Parsnip is in the Apiacese (Parsley) Family. It is rather abundant right now. The yellow variety grows mainly in the western part of the state (TN) while the purple variety grows mainly in the eastern part of the state.

Golden Alexanders (Zizia) are easily confused with Meadow Parsnip, but the central flower of each umbellet is not stalked.

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Yellow Stargrass (Hypoxis hirsuta L)

Photographic Location: Lebanon Cedar Forrest in Wilson County Tennessee

Yellow Star Grass is in the Amaryllis Family which includes Lilies, Irises and relatives.  It prefers wet mesic, mesic, and dry soil conditions. Yellow Star Grass blooms approximately from May to June and grows best in full sun to partial shade. Growing only 6" tall, this yellow beauty has some unusual characteristics such as when the leaves are almost closed it appears green because the outside of the petals are displayed, however; when the flower is open the beautiful array of golden yellow will catch your eye!

Photographic Location: Lebanon Cedar Forrest in Wilson County Tennessee

 For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Missouri Evening Primrose, Ozark Sundrop (Oenothera macrocarpa)

Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glades in Rutherford County Tennessee

While visiting Flat Rock Cedar Glades, I came across an abundance of this poppy like flower. You will not mistake it for any other flower like this. The blooms are big and showy and right on the ground. It never ceases to amaze me how so many plants can grow on such poor soil.

The flowers of this species open at dusk in advance of the night. It is one of the primroses that is synchronized with the nocturnal habits of their pollinators, Sphinx Moths.

For More information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sedums (Crassulaceae) in Tennessee

Sedum species are in the Crassulaceae Family. There are three Sedum species you may see on your wildflower hikes or maybe even in your yard. Especially if you live in Wilson County Tennessee. Sedum species literally grow right on the rocks! 

You can tell where every rock on my farm is right now because of the Widow's Cross, Glade Stonecrop (Sedum pulchellum) growing all over them. They are really pretty right now.


Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in Middle Tennessee

In the Cedar Forest you might also come across a white sedum called Wild Stonecrop, Mountain Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum).

Photographic Location: Cedar Forrest in Middle Tennessee

 If you live in Polk county and know where to look, you might also come across Nevius' Stonecrop (Sedum Nevii). This one is really rare. It is endangered in Tennessee. I was really lucky to get this picture.


Photographic Location: Little Cedar Mountain in East Tennessee
For more information about the Sedum species, Click Here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium)

Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glades

A friend and myself were visiting Flat Rock Cedar Glade and happened to notice this among many other wildflowers in an adjacent field. Risking life and limb (maybe not so much) we investigated the field. I have seen this wildflower before but I still find it very interesting.

It is in the Aster or Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). The leaves of this species were used by Native Americans as a poultice on burns, and traditionally it was thought to be useful in treating fevers similar to malaria.


Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glades

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium)

Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glade

 A friend and myself were visiting Flat Rock Cedar Glade and happened to notice this among many other wildflowers in an adjacent field. Risking life and limb (maybe not so much) we investigated the field. I have seen this wildflower before but I still find it very interesting.

It is in the Aster or Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). The leaves of this species were used by native Americans as a poultice on burns, and traditionally it was thought to be useful in treating fevers similar to malaria.
 
Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glade

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tennessee Milk Vetch (Astragalus tennesseensis)

Photographic Location: Cedar Forrest in Lebanon, TN
There are three variety of milk vetch in Tennessee. The other two are A. bibullatus and A. canadensis. They are members of the Fabaceae family. This plant is considered threatened in Tennessee.


  
Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glade






For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Skunk Meadow Rue (Thalictrum revolutum)

Photographic Location: Rutherford County TN.

The name Skunk Meadow Rue comes from the skunk-like aroma emitted when the foliage is crushed. I found this example in a road side ditch on my way to Flat Rock Cedar Glade in Rutherford County, TN.

Photographic Location: Rutherford County TN.


It was a little hard to identify because of the difference in the way the flowers look at different stages. Also, the plant will have only male or female flowers, but not both. The first picture is female and the second is male. However the leaves are a dead giveaway. They have the same little puppy dog foot leaves as another member of the family, Rue Anemone.

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)

Photographic Location: Great Smokey Mountains
This is a member of the Polemoniaceae family. Also known as Phlox family. There are a lot of species of Phlox in this area and all are beautiful plants. 

Creeping phlox is a spreading, mat-forming phlox which is native to wooded areas and stream banks in the Appalachian Mountains. Creeping, leafy, vegetative (sterile) stems typically form a foliage mat to 3" tall and spread indefinitely. Loose clusters (cymes) of fragrant, tubular, lavender flowers (to 3/4" wide) with five, flat, petal-like, rounded lobes appear on upright, leafy, flowering stems which rise above the foliage mat to 8" tall in spring. Oblong to oval green leaves (to 3" long) on the sterile stems, with smaller flowering stem leaves (to 3/4" long).

For more information about this wildflower, Click Here.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

White Erect Trillium (Trillium erectum)

Photographic Location: Great Smoky Mountains
I found this on Judy's and my trip to the Smokies. I just love trilliums, especially the Wakerobins. This flower can be white or red. In the Smokies, lower elevations tend to be white-flowered forms, while higher elevations tend to harbor the other colors.

Its other common names include; Red Wakerobin, Stinking Benjamin as well as Stinking Willie. It get that name from what some have described as smelling like a wet dog.

For more information on this wildflower, Click Here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)

Photographic Location: Rutherford County, TN

While returning from a wildflower photo shoot, I was presented with this beautiful display. I have seen this in a field before but was pulling our camper and could not stop and get pictures.

This plant is also called Carnation Clover. This species is often planted as a cover crop for hay. It also provides good forage for many animals.



For more information on this wildflower, Click Here.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Little Brown Jug (Hexastylis arifolia)

Photographic Location: Great Smoky Mountains

I have been looking for this plant every where I go. Apparently you have to get a little bit higher in altitude than here in middle Tennessee. I saw an abundance of this on our trip to the Smokies.

We have a lot of its cousin, Wild Ginger, but I have not seen Little Brown Jug in middle TN. Little Brown Jug is the most widespread species in this genus. Its flowers are often hidden in leaf litter on the ground.

For more information on this wildflower, Click Here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens)

Photographic Location: Great Smoky Mountains

Judy and I just got back from a trip to the Smokies. LOTS of wildflowers blooming. This one I was especially happy to find. I had found it once before but the flower was past its prime. 

With its yellow "moccasin" and slightly curled brown sepals, this orchid has a scattered distribution in the Smokies. Growing on moist, rich slopes from 900 to 3,000 feet, it reaches a height of 12 to 18 inches. It blooms in May. If the pouch is less than 1 inch long, it is the small yellow lady's-slipper (var. parviflorum). A relative, the pink lady's-slipper, is locally more abundant but still rare. These species are also known as MOCCASIN FLOWER.

CKICK HERE for more information about this flower.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Trilliums of Standing Stone State Park

Liliaceae: Lily Family

      One of the reasons I like to hike the trails of Standing Stone State Park (SSSP) in Middle Tennessee is for the abundance of different varieties of trillium. Both Toadshades (leaves are sessile with no stems) and Wakerobins (leaves have stems).  Most of these I have already posted here on What's Blooming Now. You will find links to the descriptions on most of the flowers in this post.

   Lets start with the grandest of the trillium, Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium Grandiflorum)




You might think this is another variety. You would be wrong. Like so many other wildflowers, the petals can turn pink to lavender when the flower ages. In the previous picture you see flowers that are young and in their prime. Here you see a flower in its final days. It's still very beautiful and brings happiness to us when we are near it. I think there may be a life lesson here!


From the grandest to one of the smallest. Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum). Small but no less spectacular. Maybe size doesn't really matter after all! Here it looks like the little flower is reaching out saying "look at me"!


More that likely, the little fellow will look more like this.


Sweet Betsey (Trilium Cuneatum). This is probably the most abundant trillium in middle Tennessee. I have this in the woods here at Sycamore Ridge Ranch. The name refers to the unusual sweet and fruity aroma of the flower. I have smelled quite a few and must say that only a few had a sweet smell to me. I think the sweetness fades with age. Note the deep mottling on the leaves. This helps with the identification of this flower.

The next one is a trick. Obviously it is a Yellow Trillium (Trillium luteum). Wrong again! This is actually a variation of Sweet Betsey. The park does have Yellow Trillium, bit I failed to see one. They can be identified by their lemon smell. This one smelled just like Sweet Betsey. Let me know if you think different.



Here is another Wakerobin. (Trillium sulcatum) Southern Red Trillium. The species name sulcatum  is Latin for "grooved or furrowed", referring to the tips of the sepals. This is evident in the picture.


Here is the last one that I saw on this visit to SSSP. Its one of the stinky ones. (Trillium sessile) Sessile Trillium, Bloody Butcher. This species is sometimes confused with Sweet Betsey but Sessile Trillium is a smaller plant with stinking flowers and conspicuous projections at the tips of the stamens. The aroma has been described as that of dead animal tissue and helps attract flies and beetles which pollinate the plant.


The last picture was not taken on this trip, but I have never seen another one like it. The picture was taken at Rock Island State Park. Yes, I do love the Tennessee State parks! It is a Large-Flowered Trillium with double petals. Maybe its not rare. Let me know if you have seen one.


Well, I hope you enjoyed this little presentation. I sure enjoyed my visit to SSSP as I always do. I hope to get back there soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wood Vetch (Vicia caroliniana)

Photographic Location: Standing Stone State Park
Fabaceae: Bean Family

   Plant Type: This is a vine, it is a perennial which can reach 76.2cm in height (30inches). Sometimes climbing but often more or less sprawling on the ground and reaching about 75cm (30").

   Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Each leaf is pinnately compound with from 10 to 18 leaflets. There is a tendril at the terminus of each leaf.


Photographic Location: Standing Stone State Park
   Flowers: The flowers are irregular in shape and are up to 1.3cm long (0.5 inches). They are white with purple at the base. Blooms first appear in early spring and continue into mid spring.

   Habitat: Oak forests.

   Range: Most of the eastern United States

Notes: Wood Vetch is a host for the Silvery Blue butterfly.

Spotted Mandarin (Prosartes maculatum)

Photographic Location: Standing Stone State Park in Middle Tennessee

Family: Lily

Spotted Mandarin is also known as Nodding Mandarin or Yellow Mandarin.

   Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 75cm in height (30inches).


   Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 10cm in length (4inches). Each leaf is entire, elliptic. Parallel veined and hairy on the under side.


Photographic Location: Standing Stone State Park

  Flowers: The flowers have 6 Regular Parts. They are cream with small purple spots. Blooms first appear in early spring and continue into mid spring. Three petals and three sepals that appear as six petals, hang below the stem and are often hidden from above by the leaves.

  

   Fruit: White berries turning yellow with three lobes.

   Habitat: Rich woods. Often on steep slopes.


   Range: From Michigan south to Georga.

   Notes: The flowers of this species are showier and somewhat larger than those of  Yellow Mandarin. It is a striking wildflower that can be easily overlooked because the flowers hang beneath the leaves.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata)


Photographic Location: Standing Stone State Park

Violaceae (Violet family)

    Description: This native perennial plant is 3-6" tall. The individual leaves and flowering stems emerge directly from the rootstock. Each leaf is deeply divided into 3-5 palmate lobes, while a lobe may be further subdivided into 2-3 smaller lobes. The lobes are usually broader toward their tips than at the base of the leaf, and their tips may have 1 or 2 small teeth. A typical leaf is about 1" long and across (excluding the petiole). The petiole of each leaf is rather long and slender. The slender flowering stems are at least as long as the petioles; they are either green or purple. Each stem curves abruptly downward near the flower. The entire plant is hairless, or nearly so. The flowers have 5 petals and 5 sepals; they are ¾–1½" across. The sepals are green, while the petals are pale blue-violet to dark purple-violet. Usually the petals are the same color, although sometimes the upper two petals are dark purple-violet, while the lower three petals are pale blue-violet. Toward the throat of the flower, the lower petal is white with fine violet lines that function as nectar guides. There are no white hairs near the throat. The stamens are a conspicuous golden yellow.

    The blooming period is mid- to late spring, and this plant may bloom during the fall. There may be a mild floral scent in some local ecotypes. Unlike other violets, Birdfoot Violet does not produce cleistogamous flowers. The coppery seeds can be ejected several inches from the mother plant. There is a sugary gel on the seeds that attracts ants; these ants often carry these seeds to their nests. The root system consists of a tuberous caudex with long coarse roots. Sometimes rhizomes are produced, forming vegetative offsets.

    Cultivation: The preference is full sun and dry conditions. However, a little shade and more moisture is tolerated, if the site is well-drained. The soil should be sandy or rocky to reduce competition from other plants; a somewhat acid pH is preferred. The greatest danger is crown rot from poorly drained, heavy soil. This plant is more difficult to grow than most.


Photographic Location: Standing Stone State Park
Range & Habitat: Birdfoot Violet occurs frequently in the eastern 2/3 of Tennessee and in counties along the Mississippi River, but is uncommon or absent elsewhere. Habitats include upland areas of black soil prairies, sand prairies, hill prairies, sandstone glades, cherty slopes, thinly wooded bluffs, openings in rocky or sandy forests, sandy Black Oak savannas, and sand dunes near Lake Michigan. This plant is largely restricted to high quality habitats. Fire is a beneficial management tool in areas with trees and shrubs.

    Faunal Associations: The flowers attract long-tongued bees, small butterflies, and skippers. Bee visitors during the spring include bumblebees and Anthophorine bees. Compared to other violets, the flowers of this species attracts more butterflies and skippers, which are often held horizontal to the ground (face up) and easier for such insects to land on. The caterpillars of various Fritillary butterflies feed on the foliage and flowers; the caterpillars of Speyeria idalia (Regal Fritillary) may prefer this violet species over others as a food source. As noted above, ants are attracted to the sugary gel on the seeds, and help to distribute them.

    Comments: This violet can be distinguished from other Viola spp. (Violets) by its deeply lobed leaves, the large size of its flowers, and the absence of hairs near the throat of each flower. The common name refers to the appearance of the leaves.


Reference: John Hilty
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info

Standing Stone State Park




I hope everyone got to visit one of our state parks here in Tennessee this last weekend. A lot of them were having their spring nature celebrations. Judy and I were lucky and were invited to Standing Stone State Park's 12th Annual Spring Nature Rally where I led two wildflower/photography field trips. I did my best to share my knowledge of wildflower photography and wildflower identification with two great groups of visitors. I really want to thank Rangers Stevie Plumlee and Shawn Hughes for the invitation. We hope to make this an annual event for Judy and me.

Standing Stone State Park is one of Judy's and my favorite parks. It is a beautiful place with spectacular wildflower displays. They have many trails that afford majestic views of what nature has to offer. The trails are easy. One of the best trails is to just walk the road that leads to Overton Lodge. The sides of the road are covered with many varieties of Tennessee native wildflowers.
 
Just to name a very few of the flowers you may see are: (Actaea pachypoda) Doll's Eyes, (Anemonella thalictroides) Rue Anemone, (Antennaria plantaginifolia) Plantain-Leaf Pussytoes, (Antennaria solitaria) Solitary Pussytoes, (Caulophyllum thalictroides) Blue Cohosh, (Claytonia virginica) Spring Beauty, (Dentaria multifida) Fine-Leaf Toothwort, (Erythronium americanum) Yellow Trout Lily, (Frasera caroliniensis) American Columbo, (Iris cristata) Dwarf Crested Iris, (Mertensia virginica) Virginia Bluebell, (Sedum ternatum) Mountain Stonecrop, (Trillium sulcatum) Southern Red Trillium, (Trillium recurvatum) Prairie Trillium, and (Trillium luteum) Yellow Trillium only to name a few. I took pictures of over 40 different species of wildflowers on this trip alone. Park naturalist Jonathan Williams was very helpful with identification and facts about the native wildflowers. Ranger Stevie Plumlee, who has become a great friend of mine, also accompanied me on several hikes to provide interesting information about the native wildflowers.


At the end of the day after all the events were over, we were treated with a great supper of Ranger Travis Stover's famous smoked Boston Butt pulled pork BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs, and all the fixins including some of Travis's great homemade slaw! Travis, I am still waiting for your slaw recipe!

Judy and I brought our camper and stayed the weekend. We have camped there numerous times and it is one of our go-to places. There are a lot of camper/rv sites with water and electric hookups.  Alli Baltimore (engaged to Travis) will great you when you arrive and get you all fixed up. Let's not forget Ranger Chris Cole, who was a great help to me when we arrived.

Judy and I thank you very much and, who knows, we may be back for fall pictures! Over the next few days I will be posting some wildflower pictures from this trip.

photos, by George




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Photographic Location: Flat Rock Cedar Glades

Violaceae: Violet Family

Low, smooth, acaulescent perennial. The leaves, from 2 to 4 in. long, are all basal, quite variable, usually divided into 5 to 9 narrow segments, toothed at the tip and with a few, long, narrow teeth along the margin. Flowers to 1.0 in. wide are borne on long stalks, and are blur-violet with the 3 lower petals bearded.

Occasional.

Viola egglestonii is a species of violet known by the common name Glade violet. It is native to a small area of Eastern North America, only being found in limestone cedar glades of the Interior Low Plateau and Ridge and Valley ecoregions of Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Viola egglestonii is a perennial, stemless blue violet, distinguished by its deeply lobed leaves, bearded petals, and glabrous leaves. Peak blooming occurs in early to mid April. The cedar glade habitat which it is endemic to is generally rare, and populations of this species are tracked in all of the states it is found in except Tennessee. It is the most common in Tennessee's Nashville Basin due to the region's relative abundance of limestone cedar glades. Also in Hamilton and Meigs counties in TN. Closely related to the Wood Violet (Viola palmata L.), and often considered a variety of it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in Middle Tennessee

Fabaceae: Bean Family

    It typically grows to 6–9 m (20–30 ft) tall with a 8–10 m (26–33 ft) spread. It generally has a short, often twisted trunk and spreading branches. A 10-year-old tree will generally be around 5 m (16 ft) tall. The bark is dark in color, smooth, later scaly with ridges somewhat apparent, sometimes with maroon patches. The twigs are slender and zigzag, nearly black in color, spotted with lighter lenticels. The winter buds are tiny, rounded and dark red to chestnut in color. The leaves are alternate, simple, and heart shaped with an entire margin, 7–12 cm (3-5 inches) long and wide, thin and papery, and may be slightly hairy below.

    The flowers are showy, light to dark magenta pink in color, 1.5 cm (½ inch) long, appearing in clusters from Spring to early Summer, on bare stems before the leaves, sometimes on the trunk itself. The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees such as blueberry bees and carpenter bees. Short-tongued bees apparently cannot reach the nectaries. The fruit are flattened, dry, brown, pea-like pods, 5–10 cm (2-4 inches) long that contain flat, elliptical, brown seeds 6 mm (¼ inch) long, maturing in August to October.

    In some parts of southern Appalachia, green twigs from the eastern redbud are used as seasoning for wild game such as venison and opossum. Because of this, in these mountain areas the eastern redbud is sometimes known as the spicewood tree.

    In the wild, eastern redbud is a frequent native understory tree in mixed forests and hedgerows. It is also much planted as a landscape ornamental plant. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera, for example the Io moth

Small-Flowered Buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus)

Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in Middle Tennessee

Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)

    Description: This native plant is a biennial or short-lived perennial up to 2' tall that branches occasionally. The green stems are glabrous. The blades of the basal leaves are up to 2" long and 2½" across; they are orbicular-reniform and crenate along the margins. Their petioles are up to 3" long. The lower cauline leaves are up to 2" long and across on petioles up to 1" long; they are often deeply divided into 3 rounded lobes and their margins are crenate. The upper cauline leaves are usually lanceolate, oblanceolate, or oblong with smooth margins; sometimes they are shallowly lobed with teeth that are crenate or dentate. The blades of the upper cauline leaves are up to 1½" long and they are sessile. All of these leaves are hairless; the cauline leaves alternate along the stems. Each upper stem terminates in 1-3 flowers on individual stalks. Each flower is about ¼" across, consisting of 5 yellow petals, 5 green sepals, a cluster of green carpels, and a ring of stamens with bright yellow anthers. The petals are broadly lanceolate or triangular; they are smaller than the sepals. The sepals become membranous with age and they fall off the flower at about the same time as the petals. The blooming period occurs from mid-spring to early summer and lasts about 1-2 months. The cluster of carpels (immature achenes) elongates to about ¼" in length and becomes ovoid in shape. The small achenes are somewhat flattened and orbicular in shape; their surfaces are shiny when mature and they have very small beaks. The root system consists of a tuft of fibrous roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.

    Cultivation: This plant is typically found in partial sunlight, moist to mesic conditions, and a reasonably fertile loam or clay-loam soil. It has few problems with pests and disease.

    Range & Habitat: Small-Flowered Buttercup is a common plant that has been observed in nearly all counties of Tennessee. Habitats include open woodlands, woodland borders, areas along woodland paths, degraded meadows, banks of rivers and ditches, pastures and abandoned fields, edges of yards, vacant lots, grassy areas along railroads and roads, and waste areas. This plant is typically found in disturbed areas and is somewhat weedy.

    Faunal Associations: Ladybird beetles, small bees, Syrphid flies, and other kinds of flies suck nectar from the flowers. Some flies and ladybird beetles feed on the pollen, while some bees collect pollen for their larvae. Ants suck nectar that adheres to the carpels after the petals and sepals fall of the flowers. The Wood Duck and Wild Turkey eat the foliage and seeds of Ranunculus spp. (Buttercups). Some small rodents, including the Eastern Chipmunk and Meadow Vole, eat the seeds, while the Cottontail Rabbit eats the foliage. However, the use of the foliage and seeds as a food source by these animals is rather limited. The foliage contains a blistering agent and is mildly toxic to livestock.

    Comments: Small-Flowered Buttercup is one of the most common Ranunculus spp. in TN. The flowers aren't very showy and this plant is easily overlooked. There are many Ranunculus spp. in the state and they are often hard to tell apart. While attempting to identify Small-Flowered Buttercup, look for lower leaves that are orbicular, kidney-shaped, or deeply 3-lobed with crenate margins, and slender upper leaves with mostly smooth margins. The foliage is usually hairless, although there is an uncommon form of this plant that is finely pubescent. Small-Flowered Buttercup is very similar in appearance to Ranunculus micranthus (also called Small-Flowered Buttercup). To distinguish Ranunculus abortivus from Ranunculus micranthus, it is often necessary to examine the naked receptacles of these two species (the receptacle of the flower is what remains after the carpels, sepals, and petals are removed). The receptacle of Ranunculus abortivus is pubescent, while the receptacle of Ranunculus micranthus is hairless. Another difference is the following: the achenes of Ranunculus abortivus have a shiny surface, while the achenes of Ranunculus micranthus have a dull surface.




Reference: John Hilty
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info