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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana)



Caper family (Capparidaceae)

    *Description: This introduced plant is a summer annual about 3-5' tall. It often branches toward the base of the plant, while the upper stems remain unbranched. These stems are light green and covered with long glandular hairs. The lower to middle leaves are palmately compound with 3-7 leaflets, while the upper leaves are simple. These leaves are alternate and become smaller in size as they ascend the stems. The compound leaves span up to 6-8" across; the lower compound leaves have long stout petioles, while the upper compound leaves have short stout petioles or they are sessile. These petioles are light green and covered with glandular hairs. At the base of each petiole, there is a pair of small spiny stipules. The leaflets of the compound leaves are narrowly ovate, oblanceolate, or lanceolate in shape, and their margins are smooth or serrated. Both sides of these leaflets are covered with short glandular hairs; their upper surfaces are medium to dark green. The simple leaves are broadly lanceolate to cordate-ovate, sessile to clasping along each upper stem, and smaller in size than the compound leaves; otherwise they have similar characteristics. The glandular hairs of the foliage provide the plant with a fetid scent. The upper stems terminate in large racemes of flowers. These flowers are crowded together toward the apex of each raceme, while scattered seedpods develop below. Each flower spans about 1–1½" across (excluding the stamens), consisting of 4 white to pink petals, 4 light green sepals, 6 long-exerted stamens, and a pistil with a short style. The erect to ascending petals are oblanceolate with well-rounded margins, becoming linear (or clawed) near the base of the flower. The stamens have long slender filaments about 2-3" long. The sepals are linear-lanceolate and much smaller than the petals; they bend away from the base of the flower with age. Each flower has an ascending pedicel. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts 1½–3 months. Each flower is replaced by a cylindrical seedpod on a long narrow stipe. Both the seedpod and the stipe are glabrous. Each seedpod contains several seeds. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.



 
      Cultivation: Spider Flower adapts to full or partial sun, moist to slightly dry conditions, and different kinds of soil, including those containing loam, clay-loam, or gravel. It requires warm weather and a long growing season to fully develop from seed.

    Range & Habitat: Spider Flower has naturalized in Tennessee in widely scattered areas. Aside from its cultivation in gardens, this species is uncommon and rarely persists. It was introduced from tropical South America as an ornamental plant. Habitats include vacant lots, edges of yards, gravelly shores along rivers, and miscellaneous waste areas. It is usually found in habitats with a history of disturbance.

    Faunal Associations: In its native tropical habitat, the pollinators of the flowers are primarily bats (Machado et al., 2006), which seek nectar. Sphingid moths also visit the flowers, but they are regarded as nectar thieves. In Tennessee and other temperate areas, the pollinators of the flowers are currently unknown. Various beetles appear to be attracted to the flowers, and flies or small bees probably seek nectar or pollen from them. However, the mouthparts and body size of these insects are too small to function as effective pollinators. Other insects that are attracted to Spider Flower and other Cleome spp. include Phyllotreta cruciferae (Crucifer Flea Beetle) and Phyllotreta striolata (Striped Flea Beetle), which chew small holes in the leaves. On rare occasions, the caterpillars of Pieris rapae (Cabbage Butterfly) have been observed to feed on the foliage. According to some observations in western United States, the Ring-Necked Pheasant and Mourning Dove eat the seeds of Cleome spp. to a limited extent. The fetid foliage is rejected by cattle when there is more palatable food available.

    Photographic Location: Garbes farm in Wilson County, Middle Tennessee.
  
    Comments: The showy flowers have an odd structure and appearance, although this is not unusual for Cleome spp. (Bee Plants, etc.) and the related Polanisia spp. (Clammyweed). Among the species in this group that naturalize in Illinois, Spider Flower has showier flowers than most and the filaments of its stamens are exceptionally long (2-3" in length). It is also larger in size than these other species (up to 5' tall). The closely related Cleome serrulata (Rocky Mountain Bee Plant) is occasionally adventive from the Western states. It has compound leaves with only 3 leaflets, while the compound leaves of Spider Flower usually have 5-7 leaflets. Species of Clammyweed are distinguished from Cleome spp. primarily by their seedpods, which lack stipes (a beak-like structure in front of the seedpod). An older scientific name for Spider Flower is Cleome spinosa, which refers to the spiny stipules.


*Copyright © 2002-2012 by John Hilty All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 4, 2014



Climbing False Buckwheat
(Fallopia scandens)
Knotweed family (Polygonaceae)

Description: This native perennial plant is a twining vine up to 20' long that can climb adjacent vegetation and fences, otherwise it sprawls across the ground. The slender stems are light green to bright red and round, angular, or slightly ridged. They are largely hairless, except for minute stiff hairs along the ridges. At the base of the petioles, the stems are slightly swollen and have short ocreae (membranous sheaths) that are without bristles. The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 2" across (excluding the petioles). They are cordate or ovate, smooth along the margins, hairless, and indented at the base. Their slender petioles are up to 1½" long and similar in appearance to the stems. The lower leaves have long petioles, while the smaller upper leaves are nearly sessile. From the axils of the leaves, there develops one or more racemes of flowers about 2-8" long. These racemes are usually more or less erect (although sometimes horizontal) and their central stalks are often terete with numerous fine ridges. The greenish white flowers occur in loose whorls along these racemes. They are initially semi-erect while in bloom, but dangle downward from their slender pedicels while developing their fruits. Each flower is about 1/6" long, consisting of 5 greenish white tepals, 8 stamens, and an ovary with a tripartite style. The 3 outer tepals are conspicuously winged. The wings of these tepals can be smooth, undulate, or slightly jagged. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 1-2 months. Each flower is replaced by a winged fruit about 1/3" long that consists of the 3 outer tepals enclosing a single achene. This fruit is initially greenish white like the flower, but it eventually becomes brown. The 3-angled achenes are about 1/8" in length (or slightly longer). They are dark brown or black and shiny. The mature fruits can float on water or be blown about by the wind, thereby distributing the achenes. This plant reproduces by reseeding itself and can form sizable colonies at favorable sites.



 

Cultivation: The preference is partial sun, moist to mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil, although full sun, drier conditions, and rocky or gravelly soil are also tolerated. This vine develops rapidly during the summer and can smother small shrubs. It is quite aggressive.

Range & Habitat: Climbing Buckwheat is a common plant that occurs in every county of Tennessee. Habitats include open woodlands in floodplain areas, woodland borders, thickets, riverbanks, ditches, sloping ground along bridges, and fence rows. This species is often found in moist areas along the edges of woodlands or near sources of water. It is thrives on disturbance and is rather weedy, although regular mowing and cultivation of the soil isn't tolerated because of its perennial habit.


Faunal Associations: The nectar of the flowers primarily attracts short-tongued bees, wasps, and flies. Some of the bees may also collect pollen. Less common visitors include butterflies, skippers, and beetles. The caterpillars of the moth Timandra amaturaria (Cross-Lined Wave) feed on Fallopia spp. (Climbing Buckwheats), as does the aphid, Macrosiphum venaefuscae. It seems likely that many of the insects that feed on Persicaria spp. (Smartweeds) and Polygonum spp. (Knotweeds) also feed on Climbing Buckwheats. The large seeds are an important source of food to many birds, especially upland gamebirds (see Bird Table). The White-Footed Mouse and other small mammals also eat the seeds. The foliage isn't usually eaten by mammalian herbivores, although cattle and other livestock may browse on it. The dense foliage provides cover for small mammals and nesting bird.

Photographic Location: Henry Horton State Park in Middle Tennessee.

Comments: This is a luxuriant vine that can smother everything in its path. However, the flowers and fruits are produced in abundance and are rather showy. There is a lack of consensus regarding the taxonomy of this variable species. Some botanists (the 'splitters') divide Fallopia scandens (Climbing Buckwheat) into 2 or 3 species, while others (the 'lumpers') recognize only a single species with different varieties. Similar to Yatskievych (2000), I prefer the taxonomy of the latter and regard Fallopia cristata (Crested Climbing Buckwheat) as a variety of Climbing Buckwheat, or Fallopia scandens cristata, as specimen plants tend to intergrade. However, according to Mohlenbrock (2002), Climbing Buckwheat has winged fruits that exceed 10 mm. in length, while the winged fruits of Crested Buckwheat are shorter. An older scientific name of Climbing Buckwheat is Polygonum scandens, while Crested Climbing Buckwheat has been referred to as Polygonum cristatum and Polygonum scandens cristatum. Another species in this genus, Fallopia convolvulus (Black Bindweed), is an adventive annual vine from Europe that is up to 6' long. The flowers and fruits of Black Bindweed are keeled, rather than conspicuously winged, and the sides of its 3-angled achenes are dull, rather than shiny.


*Copyright © 2004-2014 by John Hilty 
  http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/index.htm

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)




Plant Type: This is a non-native herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 38cm in height (15inches).


Leaves: This plant has basal leaves only. Each leaf is toothed or lobed.


Flowers: The flowers have numerous parts and are up to 4.5cm wide (1.75 inches). They are yellow. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into early winter.


Fruit: Small seeds arranged in a sphere attached to umbrella like sails and becoming airborne when mature.




Habitat: Fields, fence rows, gardens, thin woods and especially lawns.



Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in Middle Tennessee.
   
Euell Gibbons in his classic book Stalking the Wild Asparagus devotes over four pages to the many tasty dishes that can be made from this common plant while homeowners and greens keepers spend millions of dollars on toxins to eliminate Dandelions from their lawns. A deep tap root and seeds that mature quickly and are widely dispersed on the wind combined with and almost year round blooming season make this a tough weed to eliminate. I heard of a botanist who when ask by a lady at a garden club meeting what to do about the Dandelions in her yard replied "Learn to love them". Good advice if you ask me.

Lore: Dandelion was intentionally introduced to this country by early settlers because of its value as a tonic. Long winters without fresh vegetables often resulted in malnutrition and the vitamins derived from consuming Dandelions restored the health of suffers in the new world as well as the old. The root could be found even in winter and the juice extracted and given as a tonic. The young leaves picked before the flower forms make a healthful and delicious green. The tinder crown found below the ground can be eaten in salads or cooked. The roots can be peeled, sliced and boiled in two waters to remove the bitterness and eaten. The root can be roasted and ground for a coffee substitute. The flowers can be used to make Dandelion Wine. In addition to food and medicine the plant also provides dye in two colors, yellow from the flowers and red from the root. If you decide to try a dish of Dandelions be sure that you don't collect any from a lawn that may have been treated with herbicides.

Medical Uses: As the scientific name implies this plant was considered an 'Official' remedy. It was, and is, an effective treatment for conditions due to a deficiency in vitamins A and C. It is thought to be a diuretic and mild laxative. Those allergic to latex should avoid contact. 


Text  by © Daniel Reed 2000/2002
http://2bnthewild.com

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Eyebane (Chamaesyce nutans)



Euphorbia family (Euphorbiaceae)

Description: This is an annual native plant from 3-18" tall that is low and spreading, but not prostrate. The stems are pinkish red, round, and hairless, except for a few fine hairs on new growth. The opposite leaves are up to 2" long and ¾" across. They are oblong, with short petioles and margins that are smooth or irregularly serrate. The lower surface of each leaf is light green, while the upper surface may have a red blotch in the middle. A few fine hairs may occur near the base of each leaf. The inflorescence consists of a small cyathium on a straight pedicel. Usually, several cyathia develop near the ends of each major stem when a plant is mature. A cyathium is a small cup-like structure containing the pistillate flower and one or more staminate flowers, which have neither true petals nor sepals. It is initially green, but often turns red in bright sunlight. On this particular species, the cyathium has 4 tiny petal-like appendages that are bright white. Eventually, a round tripartite fruit develops from the cyathium on a short stalk; it often turns red in bright sunlight as well. This fruit is noticeably larger than the flowers. The blooming period is mid-summer to fall, and lasts about 1-2 months. There is no noticeable floral scent. The root system consists of a central taproot.

Cultivation: The preference is full sunlight, dry conditions, and poor soil. The soil can contain significant amounts of gravel, sand, or clay. Foliar disease rarely bothers the leaves, and drought resistance is excellent. This plant can reseed itself readily.

Range & Habitat: Eyebane is a common plant that occurs in nearly every county of Tennessee. Habitats include dry upland areas of black soil prairies, clay prairies, gravel prairies, thickets, openings in upland woodlands, fields and pastures (whether abandoned or still in use), areas along roadsides and railroads, poorly maintained lawns and gardens, and miscellaneous waste areas. This plant prefers disturbed open areas and is somewhat weedy. It seems to be more common in rural than urban areas, possibly because of its intolerance to herbicides and frequent mowing of lawns.


Faunal Associations: The tiny flowers occasionally attract small bees, Syrphid flies, and wasps. These insects seek nectar primarily. The seeds are consumed by the Mourning Dove and Greater Prairie Chicken, and to a lesser extent by the Bobwhite and Horned Lark. The Wild Turkey has been known to eat the foliage, developing buds, and fruits, apparently without ill effects. Mammalian herbivores rarely eat this plant because of the poisonous white latex in the stems and foliage.

Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in Middle Tennessee.

Comments: Eyebane can be readily distinguished from other Chamaesyce spp. by its more erect habit, larger leaves, and mostly hairless stems. Several scientific names have been applied to Eyebane in the past, including Chamaesyce maculata, Euphorbia maculata, and Euphorbia preslii. Sometimes the entire plant will turn reddish green in response to strong sunlight and dry conditions.
 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August Wild Flowers

Here are just a few of the summer wildflowers blooming in my neck of the woods. 


(Elephantopus carolinianus) Carolina Elephant's Foot

(Asclepias incarnata) Swamp Milkweed

(Conoclinium coelestinum) Mist Flower

(Mimulus alatus) Sharp-Winged Monkeyflower

(Spiranthes lacera var gracilis) Green-Lipped Ladies'-Tresses. 
One of the few orchids you will find in middle TN.

Swamp milkweed, Pink Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata L.)



Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed Family)

The large, bright, terminal blossoms of this showy, 2-4 ft. perennial are made up of small, rose-purple flowers. Deep pink flowers clustered at the top of a tall, branching stem, bearing numerous narrow, lanceolate leaves. Opposite, narrow, lance-shaped leaves line the erect, open-branched stem. Elongated, tan-brown seed pods persist into winter.

Photographic Location: Wilson County in Middle Tennessee.

The juice of this wetland milkweed is less milky than that of other species. The genus was named in honor of Aesculapius, Greek god of medicine, undoubtedly because some species have long been used to treat a variety of ailments. The Latin species name means flesh-colored.



 

This is a very important plant for the survival of the Monarch butterfly. They eat it, lay their eggs on it and build their chrysalis on it. In the last 20 years, the population of monarch butterflies in the eastern U.S. has declined by 90 percent, greatly worrying environmentalists and researchers. Today, three major conservation groups and a scientist have called on the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate the brilliant orange and black insects as threatened, a move that would provide federal officials with more latitude in efforts to preserve them like designating certain areas as protected.

Sharpwinged Monkeyflower (Mimulus alatus)


Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae)

    Description: This native perennial plant is ½–3' tall, branching occasionally. The stems are glabrous, 4-angled, and more or less winged. The opposite leaves are up to 5" long and 2" across. They are ovate, lanceolate-ovate, or lanceolate, becoming smaller and more narrow where the flowers occur. The leaves are glabrous and either dentate or serrate along the margins their petioles are narrowly winged and about ½" in length or more. The flowers occur individually above the axils of the middle to upper leaves; their pedicels vary from nearly zero to ½" in length. Each flower is about 1" long, consisting of a two-lipped corolla and a tubular calyx. The throat of the corolla has a patch of yellow that is surrounded by a narrow band of white, otherwise it is pale violet or pink. The upper lip has a pair of lobes that fold backward laterally, while the lower lip has 3 well-rounded lobes that spread outward and function as a landing pad for visiting insects. The surface of the corolla is often covered with fine white hairs, particularly at the base of its throat. The light green calyx is about as long as the corolla and glabrous; it has 5 winged ridges along its length and 5 linear teeth along its outer rim.

    The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 1-2 months. Only a few flowers on a plant are in bloom at the same; there is no floral scent. After the corolla falls off, the persistent calyx surrounds a capsule containing several smooth seeds. The root system is rhizomatous. Although this plant is not a strong colonizer, clonal offsets are occasionally formed from the rhizomes.



 

    Cultivation: The preference is partial sun, wet to consistently moist conditions, and rich soil containing an abundance of organic matter. Full sun and light shade are also tolerated. When plants are grown in conditions that are too dry and sunny, they remain small in size and their foliage becomes yellowish green. Foliar disease is rarely a problem.

     Range & Habitat: Found throughout TN and most of the south east, common. Habitats include openings in floodplain and bottomland forests, swamps, seeps, edges of small rivers and drainage canals, soggy areas of alluvial meadows, and roadside ditches. This plant is somewhat conservative in its habitat preferences, but it can be found in disturbed wetlands occasionally.

    Faunal Associations: The nectar of the flowers attracts Bombus pensylvanica and other bumblebees. Insects that feed destructively on Mimulus spp. (Monkeyflowers) include caterpillars of the moth, Elaphria chalcedonia (Chalcedony Midget), and caterpillars of the butterfly, Junonia coenia (Buckeye). An aphid, Aphis mimuli, uses these plants as summer hosts. Little appears to be known about the ecological relationships of these plants to vertebrate animals, although they are large enough to provide some protective cover in wetland areas.

    Photographic Location: Wilson County in Middle Tennessee.

    Comments: Winged Monkeyflower is a very attractive plant that can withstand occasional flooding. It has a similar appearance to Mimulus ringens (Monkeyflower) and it occurs in the same habitats. Winged Monkeyflower differs from the latter species in the following characteristics: 1) Its flowers are often pink rather than blue-violet, 2) Its leaves have narrowly winged petioles about ½" long or more, while Mimulus ringens has sessile leaves, and 3) The pedicels of its flowers vary in length from nearly zero to ½" in length, while Mimulus ringens has pedicels that are greater than ½" in length.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Slender Gaura (Gaura filipes)


Family - Onagraceae

Flowering - June - November.

Habitat - Sandhills, pine flatwoods, bogs.

Origin - Native to North America.

Photographic Location - Couchville Cedar Glade State Natural Area in Middle Tennessee.

Other information - This species can be found scattered thinly throughout Tennessee. Mostly in the southern half. The plant can be identified by its pubescent stems (which are frequently red), sinuate to dentate leaves, small, white flowers, and ovoid fruits. The fruits are on pedicels 2-6mm long. The pedicels are longer than the body of the fruit. Another species, G. sinuata Nutt. ex Ser., is similar but has larger flowers and more narrow fruits.

The genus name Gaura derives from the Greek "gaur(o)" meaning "proud, majestic, superb" and is not very fitiing of most of the species.


The species epithet filipes derives from the Latin "fil(i)" meaning "a thread" referring to the stalks of the fruits (compared to the fruits of other species which are sessile or have thick stalks).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Winged Sumac (Rhus copallina)



Cashew family (Anacardiaceae)

Description: This native woody shrub is up to 20' tall, but more often 5-6' tall. The new growth of the stems is usually covered with a greyish pubescence. The alternate compound leaves are oddly pinnate, individually consisting of 7-21 leaflets and a central leaf stalk that is conspicuously winged. These compound leaves are up to 2½' long. A leaflet is about 3" long and 1" across. It is ovate or ovate-lanceolate, with smooth margins and an upper surface that is glabrous or slightly pubescent. Some of the upper stems terminate in a panicle of flowers up to 1' long. This panicle is broader at the bottom than the top. The small flowers are yellowish white and individually about 1/8" across. Each flower consists of 5 spreading petals, 5 stamens, and a central pistil. The calyx is divided into 5 triangular lobes that are recurved. Sometimes Winged Sumac is dioecious, with male and female plants. When this occurs, the flowers of the male plants will lack pistils, while the flowers of the female plants will lack stamens. The flowers usually bloom during mid-summer for about 2-3 weeks. Later in the year, they are replaced by dark red drupes that are covered with short acid hairs. Each drupe is about 1/6" long and contains a smooth stone. These drupes persist through the winter, gradually becoming black. The root system consists of a taproot and spreading rhizomes. Sometimes vegetative colonies of plants are created by the rhizomes.

Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun and mesic to slightly dry conditions. This plant often flourishes in poor soil that is sandy or rocky because of the reduced competition from other plants, but it should develop normally in richer soil as well. The foliage is normally attractive, but occasionally attacked by leaf spot and other kinds of foliar disease. This sumac is less aggressive than Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac).



Range & Habitat: Winged Sumac is found throughout TN.  It prefers areas with a history of disturbance, such as fire.

Faunal Associations: The nectar or pollen of the flowers attracts many kinds of insects, especially wasps, flies, and bees. The foliage is a food source for the caterpillars of several species of moths and other insects. The caterpillars of Pyrrhia umbra (Bordered Sallow) also eat the flowers and drupes. Both upland gamebirds and songbirds eat the drupes during the fall or winter, and help to distribute the seeds far and wide. Both rabbits and deer browse on the foliage, stems, or bark. In general, the ecological value of sumacs to wildlife is quite high.

Photographic Location: Couchville Cedar Glade State Natural Area in Middle Tennessee

Comments: The foliage turns red during the fall and is quite attractive. It is easy to identify this species in the wild because the central leaf stalks of the compound leaves are conspicuously winged. Another distinctive characteristic is the smooth margins of the leaves – other Rhus spp. have leaf margins that are serrate or crenate.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

This is another repeat. For more information, Click Here. It's one of my favorites mainly because of the secondary interest. There are always butterfly's, clear wing moths and praying mantises to add a little visual interest.




The mantises know the buterflys will be there and they wait for their opportunity. You see a lot of swallow tails with one or both tails missing.  



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rose Pink (Sabatia angularis)


 This is another one of my favorites. This year it seems to be blooming everywhere! My photography skills may be improving a little so I hope this is a little better picture. 

Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in Middle Tennessee.

This is another repost. For original post and more information on this beautiful flower, Click Here

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis)

I know that I have posted this beautiful flower before (Click here for description), but since its one of my favorites and it grows on my farm, I thought I would post a few new pictures. I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in middle Tennessee.






Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil (Desmodium nudiflorum)


Bean family (Fabaceae)

Description: This perennial wildflower consists of a short leafy stem (4-12" tall) and a flowering stalk (1½-3' long) that are separated from each other at the base. The leafy stem is erect, light green to reddish green, and short-pubescent; it has 1-2 pseudo-whorls of 3 compound leaves at its apex. The compound leaves are trifoliate with slender petioles about 2-3" long. Individual leaflets are 2-3½" long and 1½-2½" across; they are lanceolate-ovate to oval in shape and their margins are smooth. The upper surface of the leaflets is medium green and short-pubescent to glabrous, while their lower surface is pale green and glabrous. The terminal leaflet of each trifoliate leaf has a slender petiolule (basal stalklet) up to ¾" long, while the lateral leaflets have slender petiolules less than 1/8" long. The erect to ascending flowering stalk is light green to reddish green and short-pubescent; it is usually leafless, although a less common variety of Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil has 1-2 trifoliate leaves. The upper part of the flowering stalk consists of a raceme or narrow panicle of flowers up to 1' long. The flowers are arranged along the stalk in widely spaced pseudo-whorls. The pedicels of the flowers and lateral branches (if any) are about ½-¾" long..

Individual flowers consist of 5 whitish pink or pale lavender petals, a short tubular calyx with blunt teeth that is greenish red to white, several stamens with white filaments, and a pistil with a single style. The corolla of each flower has a typical pea-like structure consisting of an erect banner, a straight horizontal keel, and a pair of spreading wings. The calyx is short-pubescent and its bottom tooth is larger in size than the others. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer for about 1-1½ months. On each plant, only a few flowers are in bloom at the same time and they are not noticeably fragrant. The flowers are replaced by flattened seedpods called 'loments.' The loments usually have 2-3 one-seeded segments (less often, 1 or 4 segments); the upper side of each segment is straight or slightly concave, while the lower side is convex or rhombic. The lateral sides of each loment are covered with short hooked hairs; each loment has a long stipe (about ½" long) at its base and a shorter beak (less than ¼" long) at its tip. Each segment of the loment is about 8 mm. long (a little less than 1/3"). The root system consists of a short broad taproot or caudex. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself.

Cultivation: The preference is light to medium shade, mesic conditions, and a slightly to moderately acidic soil containing sand, rocky material, or loam with decaying organic matter. The root system of this wildflower fixes nitrogen into the soil via symbiotic bacteria.

Range & Habitat: Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil found throughout TN.  Habitats consist of mesic beech-maple woodlands, sandy oak woodlands, and rocky woodlands where sandstone is present. This wildflower occurs in higher quality woodlands where the native ground flora is intact. Jul-Aug.

Faunal Associations: The flowers are cross-pollinated by bumblebees, other long-tongued bees, and Halictid bees; these visitors collect pollen. Nectar is not available as a floral reward. Other insects feed on the foliage and other parts of Desmodium spp. (Tick Trefoils). These species include the caterpillars of several skippers, butterflies, and moths; the leaf-mining larvae of the Buprestid beetles Pachyschelus confusus and Pachyschelus laevigatus; the larvae of the seed weevil Apion decoloratum; the thrips Echinothrips americanus and Neohydatothrips desmodianus; and the aphid Microparsus variabilis. There are also several leaf beetles that feed on the foliage of tick trefoils: Anomoea laticlavia, Bassareus lituratus, Cerotoma trifurcata, Colaspis brunnea, Cryptocephalus insertus, Odontata dorsalis, Pachybrachis nigricornis, Pachybrachis othonus, Phyllecthris dorsalis, and Saxinis omogera. Some vertebrate animals also use these plants as a food source. The seeds are eaten by the Wild Turkey and Bobwhite, while the foliage is palatable to deer, rabbits, horses, cattle, and other mammalian herbivores. Because of the height of the flowering stalk (up to 3') and the habitat (woodlands), White-Tailed Deer are probably the primary transporters of the seeds of Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil as the loments (seedpods) can cling to fur.

Photographic Location: Big South Fork National Park

Comments: Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil is usually easy to identify because, unlike other Desmodium spp. (Tick Trefoils), it produces its leaves and flowers on separate stalks (except for an uncommon variety). While other species in this genus produce leaves that are clearly alternate, Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil produces its leaves in pseudo-whorls. This species also has loments (a type of seedpod) with straight or slightly concave upper sides above their segments. In contrast, most species of tick trefoil have loments with convex upper sides above their segments. Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil also prefers shady woodlands, while other species of tick trefoil usually prefer partially shaded savannas or sunny prairies.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana)


Evening Primrose family (Onagraceae)

Description: This perennial plant is about ¾-2' tall and unbranched or little branched. Scattered white hairs occur occasionally along the central stem, although it becomes glabrous with age. The opposite leaves are up to 5" long and 3" across (excluding the petioles); they are ovate-cordate, dentate along their margins, and largely hairless. The upper leaf surface is medium to dark green and hairless. The slender petioles of the leaves are up to 1½" long and medium green. The central stem terminates in a raceme of flowers up to 6" long. The stalk of this raceme has scattered white hairs. The small flowers are sparsely, but evenly, distributed along this stalk on slender pedicels up to ½" long. These pedicels spread outward.

Each flower consists of 2 white petals, 2 green sepals, 2 stamens, and a slender style. Each petal is deeply divided into 2 lobes. At the base of each flower, there is a 2-celled ovary that is green and covered with stiff hooked hairs; it is obovoid in shape. Each cell of this ovary contains a single seed. The blooming period for a colony of plants occurs during the summer and lasts about a month. Each flower is short-lived and replaced by a small bur-like fruit (see the description of the ovary above). The root system can produce rhizomes or stolons that extend through the soil or leaf mould to create clonal offsets from the mother plant.

Cultivation: The preference is dappled sunlight to medium shade, more or less mesic conditions, and a rich loamy soil with abundant organic matter.

Range & Habitat: The native Enchanter's Nightshade is throughout TN. Extended range from Nova Scotia to S Manitoba south to GA, LA and OK. This plant may be less abundant than in the past because of browsing by deer. Habitats include mesic deciduous woodlands, including oak woodlands and maple/basswood woodlands, and areas that are adjacent to woodland paths. Sometimes this species occurs in wooded upland areas and along ravine slopes. Jun-Sep.

Faunal Associations: The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract small bees, including Halictid bees (Lasioglossum spp.) and little carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.); they are also visited by Syrphid flies and bee flies (Bombyliidae). The caterpillars of a moth, Mompha terminella (Enchanter's Cosmet), are blotch leaf-miners. Birds and mammals help to distribute the seeds, as the small bur-like fruits can cling to feathers and fur; these fruits can cling to the clothing of humans as well. Deer occasionally browse on the foliage of Enchanter's Nightshade.

Photographic Location: Big South Fork National Park

Comments: This is one of the woodland wildflowers that blooms during the summer in shaded areas. The flowers of such species are usually small, white, and not very showy. Enchanter's Nightshade is a rather odd member of the Evening Primrose family, as its flowers have only 2 petals, 2 sepals, and 2 stamens. This is a distinctive characteristic of the Circaea genus in this family.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lance-Leaved Loosestrife (Lysimachia lanceolata)


Primrose family (Primulaceae)

Description: This native perennial plant is 1-2' tall and more or less erect. Initially, it consists of a rosette of leaves that are rather angular and orbicular. Later, a central stem develops that is 4-angled and smooth. The opposite leaves are up to 5" long and ¾" across. They are lanceolate or narrowly ovate, and often fold upward along the length of the central vein. Their margins are usually smooth (although sometimes ciliate), and there are no hairs, except toward the base of each leaf. These leaves are sessile against the stem, or they have short petioles with a few coarse hairs. The uppermost leaves at the top of a plant are usually whorled. The underside of each leaf is light or whitish green, but eventually becomes darker with age. There are a few short side stems in the upper half of the plant. From 1-4 nodding flowers develop from the upper axils of the leaves, each with its own pedicel. Each flower is about ¾" across, with 5 narrowly triangular green sepals, 5 yellow petals, and 5 yellowish orange stamens. The petals are well-rounded, but their outer edges are often ragged and may have conspicuous tips. Toward the center of the flower, there is a patch of orange surrounding the upper portion of the pistil. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer and lasts about a month. There is no noticeable fragrance. The flowers are replaced by spheroid capsules with slender spike-like tips. A fully developed capsule is about the same height as the surrounding sepals. The root system consists of a taproot and rhizomes that form little plantlets. This plant often forms small colonies by means of vegetative reproduction.

Cultivation: The preference is partial to full sun, and moist to mesic conditions. This plant usually grows in a loam or clay-loam soil, but it can tolerate soil with sandy or rocky material as well. The foliage is rarely bothered by disease; occasionally insects nibble the edges of the leaves.


Range & Habitat: Lance-Leaved Loosestrife occurs throughout TN, and from NJ to WI south to FL and TX.  Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, open woodlands, thickets, swamps, gravelly seeps, limestone glades, and old fields with hardpan clay or sandy soil. Jun-Aug.

Faunal Associations: The flowers of the Lysimachia spp. (Yellow-Flowered Loosestrifes) are unusual in that they produce a floral oil, rather than nectar. Because of this, they attract the short-tongued Melittid bee, Macropsis steironematis. This oligolectic bee collects both the floral oil and pollen and forms a pollen-ball that becomes the food of its developing bee-larvae. Otherwise, the flowers attract few insects, except for the occasional visitor seeking pollen from the anthers. Information about Lance-Leaved Loosestrife's relation to birds and mammals does not appear to be readily accessible at the present time.

Photographic Location: Big South Fork National Park

Comments: This plant would be more attractive to humans if the flowers did not hang downward. The nodding characteristic of some flowers is often a sign that the primary pollinators are bees, which are more willing to hang upside down on the protruding structures of a flower in order to obtain whatever food source they are seeking. This characteristic may also protect the nectar or floral oil from rainfall. Lance-Leaved Loosestrife can be distinguished from other loosestrifes primarily by its opposite leaves, which are sessile or have very short petioles. The height of the mature seed capsules is about the same as the height of the surrounding calyx segments, while in other Lysimachia spp. they are often unequal. The species Lysimachia hybrida, which used to be considered a variety of Lance-Leaved Loosestrife, has a similar appearance. However, Lysimachia hybrida is supposed to have somewhat longer petioles, somewhat broader leaves, and the undersides of its leaves are green rather than light or whitish green, even in younger leaves.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

St. Andrew's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides ssp. multicaule)


Clusiaceae (St. John's-Wort Family)
Synonym(s): Ascyrum hypericoides var. multicaule, Hypericum hypericoides var. multicaule, Hypericum stragulum

Reclining St. Andrew’s Cross, Multi-stem St. Andrew's-cross. Hypericum hypericoides ssp. multicaule has been classified as a separate species of St. John’s Wort - Hypericum stragulatum in the past. The other (original) subspecies, Hypericum hypericoides ssp. hypericoides, is a taller, erect plant, up to four feet tall, and has leaves which are widest in the middle, whereas those of ssp. multicaule are widest past the middle toward the end of the leaf. The subspecies name multicaule means many-branched. Reclining St. Andrew’s Cross is a short shrub with many branches, forming mats. 


 
As with most Hypericum there are many stamens, although this species has fewer than many. There are four sepals, with the inner ones being smaller than the outer sepals, seen here with the bud below the open blossom.

The stems of Reclining St. Andrew’s Cross may be up to about 10 inches high. The leaves are about an inch long, opposite, and linear to oblanceolate - wider toward the tip than in the middle. 



Photographic Location: Big South Fork National Park.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rock Island State Park 2014

Judy and I have started camping again after her knee replacement surgery. We could not think of a better place to go than Rock Island State park in Middle Tennessee. We have been to this park several times and just love it.

Rock Island State Park is an 883 acre park located on the headwaters of Center Hill Lake at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins and Rock Rivers. The rugged beauty of the park includes the Caney Fork Gorge below Great Falls Dam. These overlooks are some of the most scenic and significant along the Eastern Highland Rim. Great Falls is a 30 foot horseshoe cascading waterfall, located below the 19th century cotton textile mill that it powered over 100 years ago. Rock Island became a Tennessee State Park in 1969.


As usual, the staff was very friendly and helpful.

The camp grounds have just gone through a refreshing and the facilities were just great.

Since Judy was still recovering from surgery, we got to use the handicap spot. They now have 4 sewer hook-ups, 2 handicap and two regular.





There had been a good bit or rain lately, so the water was really flowing.
Twin Falls 


Another Twin Falls
More of Twin Falls


Great Falls


The Bosson Mill, built around the time of the Civil War, was one of the first major mills to use the waterpower of the Great Falls Gorge. Water from the falls was used to power a grist mill on the mill's first floor and a carding factory on the second floor. Water was then diverted via flume to a sawmill downstream. The Bosson Mill, which was moderately profitable, was destroyed when the Caney Fork flooded in 1882.
The spring castle.  The "castle" is probably a larger version of a springhouse, which was used for refrigeration.
As usual I was out looking for wildflowers. This is one of my favorite trails.
Lots of photographic opportunities along this trail, especially wildflowers.
Some of the wildflowers seen on this trip;
Japanese Spiraea
Sensitive Brier
Virginia Spiderwort

Wild Hydrangea
Striped Wintergreen, Pipsissewa
 And last but not least,
Yellow False Foxglove (Similar to Smooth False Foxglove)
 These were only a few of many more.

I hope you enjoyed this short review of our trip to another one of Tennessee's great state parks. What's next, back to Big South Fork! Can't wait!