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.
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.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
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
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
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
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
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.
|Another Twin Falls|
|More of Twin Falls|
|The spring castle. The "castle" is probably a larger version of a springhouse, which was used for refrigeration.|
|Lots of photographic opportunities along this trail, especially wildflowers.|
|Striped Wintergreen, Pipsissewa|
|Yellow False Foxglove (Similar to Smooth False Foxglove)|
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!
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Spiraea japonica is one of several Spiraea shrubs with alternate, simple leaves, on wiry, freely branching, erect stems. Stems are brown to reddish-brown, round in cross-section and sometimes hairy. The shrub reaches 1.2 m to almost 2 m in height and about the same in width. The deciduous leaves are generally an ovate shape about 2.5 cm to 7.5 cm long, have toothed margins, and alternate along the stem. Clusters of rosy-pink flowers are found at the tips of the branches. The seeds measure about 2.5 mm in length and are found in small lustrous capsules.
It is naturally variable in form and there are many varieties of it in the horticulture trade. So far, nine varieties have been described within the species.
Spiraea japonica is a deciduous, perennial shrub native to Japan, China, and Korea. Southwest China is the center for biodiversity of the species. It is naturalized throughout much of the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest areas of the United States, and parts of Canada.
Habitat: A common habitat for S. japonica in general seems to be in riparian areas, bogs, or other wetland habitats. It is found growing along streams, rivers, forest edges, roadsides, successional fields, and power line right-of-ways. It prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. It prefers lots of water during the growing season; however, it cannot tolerate saturated soils for extended periods of time. It prefers a rich, moist loam, but it can grow in a wide variety of soils, including those on the alkaline side.
Uses: Spiraea japonica was introduced in North America as an ornamental landscape plant and first cultivated in the northeastern states around 1870.
Photographic Location: Rock Island State Park in Middle Tennessee.
Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden use. The tall forms may be grown as hedges, low screens, or foundation shrubs. The low-growing forms can be used as ground cover or in borders. Spiraea japonica has been used as traditional medicine by native people, and extracts from the plants were found to be bioactive.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Lily family (Liliaceae)
Description: This native perennial wildflower is ¾–1½' tall and unbranched. It consists of a central stem with 3 terminal leaves; a mature plant will produce a single stalked flower. The central stem is terete, glabrous, and pale green or pale reddish-green. The terminal leaves are arranged in a whorl at the apex of this stem. Each leaf is up to 6" long and 5" across; it is oval-ovate or oval in shape, medium green, and glabrous. Each leaf has smooth margins and parallel primary veins.
The single flower spans about 3-4" across on a stalk about 1-3" long. This stalk is ascending or erect; the flower is held above the leaves and usually leans to the side (but doesn't droop downward). Each flower consists of 3 white petals, 3 green sepals, a central white ovary, 6 stamens, and 3 stigmas. The petals are ovate-obovate, widely spreading, and usually longer than the sepals; they often become light pink with age. The sepals are lanceolate and widely spreading. The dull yellow stigmas are slender and either straight or slightly recurved. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 3 weeks. Each flower is replaced by a 6-angled seed capsule that becomes dark with age; it eventually splits open to release the seeds. The root system consists of a vertical rootstock with fibrous roots; spreading rhizomes are also produced. Occasionally, this wildflower forms loose colonies of variable size.
Cultivation: Dappled sunlight or light shade is preferred during the spring; later in the year, more shade is tolerated. The soil should be rich, loamy, rather loose, and evenly moist; a surface layer of leaves and other decaying organic material is desirable. This wildflower develops very slowly from seed (several years to maturity). It is also possible to propagate this species from vegetative offsets of the rhizomes, but this takes time to develop as well.
Range & Habitat: Large-Flowered Trillium is frequent in the eastern 1/2 of Tennessee, while in other areas of the state it is uncommon or absent. Habitats include rich deciduous woodlands, swamps, and shaded riverbanks. Occasionally, Large-Flowered Trillium is cultivated in shade gardens, but it is expensive and difficult to obtain; wild-collected plants should be avoided as it is illegal to remove any plant or plant part from a state natural area.
Faunal Associations: As showy as they are, the flowers are rarely visited by insects; Graenicher observed a single species, Ceratina dupla (Little Carpenter Bee), sucking nectar and collecting pollen from them. Another small bee, Andrena geranii, was observed to seek shelter in a flower from the rain. The caterpillars of two moths, Euplexia benesimilis (American Angle Shades) and Clepsis melaleucana (Black-Patched Clepsis), occasionally feed on Trillium spp. (trilliums); the latter species is polyphagous. The seeds of this and other trilliums are distributed by ants because of their elaisomes (food appendages). White-Tailed Deer readily browse on the foliage and flowers of trilliums, and they appear to be attracted to Large-Flowered Trillium in particular (possibly because they can easily see the flowers). Where this trillium is abundant, its large leaves can provide significant cover for small mammals.
Photographic Location: Taylor Hollow State Natural Area in Middle Tennessee.
|This particular plant had double petals! Only one I have seen like this.|
Comments: Among the various species of trilliums, this one is probably the most attractive and charismatic. The flowers are very showy and the leaves have a nice glossy surface. The only other species that is similar, Trillium flexipes (White Trillium), has flowers that are a little smaller and more nodding; usually its flowers hang a little above or a little below the leaves. Large-Flowered Trillium has slender stigmas that are straight or slightly recurved, while White Trillium has stout stigmas that are strongly recurved.
Here are some of the wildflowers seen on my latest trip to Taylor Hollow State Natural Area in Middle Tennessee. Click on the flower name to see more information.
Violet family (Violaceae)
Description: This perennial wildflower consists of a low rosette of basal leaves spanning about 4-6" across, from which stalks of flowers develop directly from the crown. The blades of the basal leaves are up to 2½" long and across; for var. dilatata, they are usually divided into 5-7 palmate lobes. These lobes are finger-like in shape, somewhat variable in size, and extend up to half-way into the blade. Some of the larger lobes may be subdivided into smaller lobes, and the margins of the leaf blade may have a few dentate teeth. The upper surface of each leaf blade is medium to dark green and hairless, while the lower surface is light green and hairy along the veins. The petiole of each leaf is about as long as the blade and rather stout; it is conspicuously hairy on the lower side. Individual flowers about ¾–1" across are borne at the apex of ascending stalks that are as long or longer than the leaves.
Each flower has 5 spreading petals that are deep blue-violet (2 upper, 2 lateral, and 1 lower), and 5 sepals that are light green to purple. The 2 lateral petals have dense white hairs (or beards) near the throat of the flower, while the lower petal has a conspicuous patch of white with blue-violet veins. These petals converge into a short nectar spur that is surrounded by the sepals. The sepals are lanceolate-ovate and pubescent. The stalk of each flower is densely covered with spreading white hairs; it is light green to deep purple, and nods downward at the apex where the flower occurs. The blooming period occurs during mid-spring to late spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks. During the summer, inconspicuous flowers are produced that are self-fertile; they are not pollinated by insects, unlike the spring flowers. Each fertile flower is replaced by an oblongoid capsule containing many small brown seeds. When it is ripe, this capsule divides into 3 parts, mechanically ejecting the seeds several inches or feet from the mother plant. The rootstock consists of a short stout crown with fibrous roots underneath.
Cultivation: The preference is dappled sunlight during the spring, followed by partial sun or light shade during the summer. The basal leaves die down during the fall. The soil should contain some loam and be well-drained; some rocky or gritty material is also tolerated. This plant dislikes competition from taller ground vegetation.
Range & Habitat: This variety of Wood Violet is common in Tennessee. Habitats include dry rocky woodlands, wooded upper slopes, and thinly wooded bluffs. Oak trees are often present at these habitats. The Wood Violet is normally found in higher quality woodlands where the original ground flora is intact.
Faunal Associations: The flower nectar of violets attracts various bees (Andrenid bees, Mason bees, etc.), bee flies (Bombylius spp.), butterflies, and skippers. The caterpillars of several Fritillary butterflies and miscellaneous moths feed on the foliage of violets (see the Butterfly & Moth Table), as do the caterpillars of Ametastegia pallipes (Violet Sawfly), which skeletonize the leaves. The insect Odontothrips pictipennis (Thrips sp.) sucks juices from violets. The leaves and stems of violets are eaten to a limited extent by the Cottontail Rabbit, Eastern Chipmunk, Wild Turkey, and Ruffed Grouse; the seeds are eaten by the Slate-Colored Junco.
Photographic Location: Taylor Hollow State Natural Area in Middle Tennessee
Comments: This variety of Wood Violet is one of several violets with lobed leaves. In general, it is less deeply lobed than Viola pedata (Bird's Foot Violet) and Viola pedatifida (Prairie Violet), but more strongly lobed than Viola sagittata (Arrow-Leaved Violet) and Viola fimbriatula (Sand Violet). Even for a single plant of Wood Violet, there can be significant variation on the number of lobes and their depth for each leaf. The flowers of this species are quite similar in appearance to those of other violets with blue-violet petals. Other common names of Viola palmata are Early Blue Violet and Blue Wood Violet. A scientific synonym for this species is Viola triloba dilatata. Where their ranges overlap, this variety of Wood Violet may intergrade with the typical variety; the latter has fewer lobes on its leaves (usually 3 or none).
Phlox family (Polemoniaceae)
Description: This herbaceous perennial plant is ½–1½' tall, branching occasionally. The leafy stems have a tendency to lean to one side or sprawl across the ground. The stems are light green to reddish green, glabrous to hairy, and often somewhat angular. The alternate compound leaves are simple odd-pinnate and up to 8" long, consisting of about 5-15 leaflets. The petioles and rachises of these compound leaves are light green to reddish green and glabrous to hairy; they are grooved above and convex below. The leaflets are ¾-1¼" long and about one-third as much across; they are elliptic to broadly elliptic-oblong, smooth (entire) along their margins, medium green, glabrous (or nearly so), and sessile (or nearly so). The upper stems terminate in rather loose panicles of floppy or nodding flowers spanning 1½-3" across. Some panicles are also produced from the axils of upper leaves on long peduncles up to 6" long. The pedicels are up to 1" long.
Both the peduncles and pedicels of these panicles are light green to reddish green and glabrous to hairy. The campanulate (bell-shaped) flowers are up to 15 mm. (2/3") across. Each flower has 5 rounded petals that are light blue-violet, a short-tubular calyx with 5 triangular teeth, 5 stamens with white anthers, and a pistil with a slender white style that become tripartite toward its tip. The calyx is light green to reddish purple and glabrous to hairy. There are fine veins that run along the length of the petals. The stamens are the same length as, or shorter than, the petals of the flowers. The blooming period usually occurs during the late spring, lasting about 2-3 weeks. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 3-celled seed capsules; these capsules are about 6 mm. (¼") in length and ovoid in shape; they are few-seeded. The root system consists of a short vertical crown with abundant fibrous roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
Cultivation: The preference is light shade or dappled sun, more or less mesic conditions, and loamy soil with decaying organic matter. This plant is not aggressive; it is able to adapt to somewhat shady gardens that are located near deciduous trees.
Range & Habitat: The native Jacob's Ladder is frequent throughout Tennessee. Habitats include deciduous woodlands, lower wooded slopes, bases of bluffs, shaded banks of streams and rivers, bottoms of sandstone canyons, and areas along woodland paths. Jacob's Ladder is found in higher quality natural habitats that are dominated by various deciduous trees.
Faunal Associations: The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract bees primarily, including honeybees, bumblebees, little carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.), mason bees (Osmia spp.), cuckoo bees (Nomada spp.), Halictid bees (Augochlorella spp., Lasioglossum spp.), and Andrenid bees (Andrena spp.). A species from this last group, Andrena polemonii, is a specialist pollinator (oligolege) of Polemonium spp. (Jacob's Ladder, Greek Valerian). The flowers are also visited by Bombylius major (Giant Bee Fly), butterflies, skippers, and moths, which seek nectar. The larvae of two moths, Coleophora polemoniella and Scrobipalpula polemoniella, mine the leaflets. An aphid, Nasonovia hottesi, sucks the sap of these plants.
Photographic Location: Taylor Hollow Natural Area in Middle Tennessee.
Comments: This is a rather floppy plant, although both the flowers and foliage are quite attractive. The bell-shaped flowers and compound leaves together provide Jacob's Ladder with a distinctive appearance. The only other species that resembles it, Polemonium vanbruntiae (Greek Valerian), which is native to some of the Eastern States but does not occur in TN. This latter species is more erect in habit, and it has slightly larger flowers with exerted stamens. The flowers of this latter species are usually a darker shade of blue than those of Jacob's Ladder. The common name of Polemonium reptans refers to the pairs of opposite leaflets on the compound leaves, which supposedly resemble a series of steps on a ladder in a dream by the biblical Jacob.
Brassica rapa, field mustard, is an herbaceous annual or biennial species in the Brassicaceae (the cabbage or mustard family) from which various interrelated vegetable varieties have been developed, including turnips, bok choi, pak choi, tat soi (which are sometimes referred to as Chinese cabbages, or Chinese white- or Chinese flat cabbages, or celery mustard), pak choi sum (Chinese flowering cabbage), and napa cabbage (also called celery cabbage or pe tsai), among others. The species is thought to have originated in Europe, with many varieties developed in Asia, but its numerous varieties are now widely cultivated commercially and in home gardens in temperate and north temperate regions throughout the world. Some varieties have become naturalized and are considered weeds in regions of China and North America.
B. rapa, formerly known as B. campestris, shows considerable variation in growth form and characteristics across the many cultivars, this species has, in general, a flat or globose root (in the case of turnips) without an elongated crown (as found in the rutabagas and kohlrabi, which are derived from B. olearacea), with stems that grow typically grow 30 to 120 cm (11.75 to 47.25 in), although in some cultivars up to 190 cm (75 in) tall. The leaves are large, soft, smooth or soft-hairy leaves, up to 50 cm (20 in) long, pinnatifid (deeply lobed) or lyrate (deeply lobed, but with an enlarged terminal lobe and smaller lateral lobes), which clasp the stem and may form a more or less dense head. The yellow, four-parted and cross-shaped flowers are small, usually less than 2 cm (0.75 in) long, and produce siliques—capsular fruit that dehisces (splits open) when mature—that may be up to 6 cm (2.5 in) long.
Photographic Location: Along the highway in Wilson County Tennessee.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Synonym(s): Dentaria diphylla, Dentaria incisa
An upright, 8-16 in. perennial with paired leaves, each dissected so deeply as to appear compound. The leaves are palmately cut into 3-5 sections. The basal leaves, when present, arise from a rhizome. A loose cluster of white or light pink, four-petaled blossoms occur at the end of a stem rising above the leaves.
This plant grows in woods but does not tolerate the deep shade cast by evergreen trees.
Photographic Location: Taylor Hollow State Natural Area in Middle Tennessee.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)
Description: This native perennial wildflower is up to 1' tall; it has a tendency to sprawl with age. The stems are light green to pale reddish brown and more or less covered with long spreading hairs. Both basal and alternate leaves are produced; like the stems, their petioles are covered with long spreading hairs. Sometimes, the petioles are as long or longer than the compound blades of the leaves. The leaf blades are usually trifoliate (divided into 3 leaflets). The leaflets are up to 4" long and across and usually cleft into 3 lobes. The margins of the leaflets are irregularly dentate. The terminal leaflet has a short petiolule (short stalk) at its base, while the lateral leaflets are either sessile or they have even shorter petiolules. The upper surface of each leaflet is more or less medium green with scattered appressed hairs, while the lower surface has spreading hairs along the major veins. The upper leaves are smaller in size than the basal leaves and their leaflets are often lack lobes. Occasionally, solitary flowers are produced on long hairy stalks. These flowers are about ¾–1" across, consisting of 5 shiny yellow petals, 5 light green sepals, a dense cluster of pale yellowish green pistils, and a ring of numerous stamens with yellow anthers. Toward the center of each flower, the petals become semi-translucent and each petal has several fine lines that function as nectar guides. The sepals are hairy and lanceolate in shape; they are shorter than the petals. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about a month. Each flower produces several flattened achenes with long beaks; these achenes are up to 3.5 mm. in length. The root system is fibrous. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself.
Cultivation: The preference is dappled sunlight during the spring, followed by light shade during the summer. This buttercup prefers mesic to dry conditions and a rich loamy soil with some decaying leaves.
Range & Habitat: Hispid Buttercup occurs from the Western Highland Rim eastward. Habitats include upland woodlands, wooded slopes, and bluffs where oak trees are often present; unlike Ranunculus septentrionalis (Swamp Buttercup), this species is rarely found in damp habitats.
Faunal Associations: Buttercups are the summer hosts of the aphid Thecabius gravicornis. The seeds and foliage of woodland buttercups are eaten by such upland gamebirds as the Wild Turkey and Ruffed Grouse; the Eastern Chipmunk also eats the seeds. The foliage is toxic to mammalian herbivores and usually avoided by such animals.
Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in Middle Tennessee
Comments: Hispid Buttercup and Ranunculus septentrionalis (Swamp Buttercup) are very similar to each other. Hispid Buttercup differs primarily by the long spreading hairs on its stems and petioles, and its preference for drier habitats than Swamp Buttercup. Swamp Buttercup is either hairless or it has short appressed hairs along its stems and petioles. Some authorities regard these two buttercups as different varieties of the same species. For spring wildflowers, they bloom longer than average.
Family - Fumariaceae
Stems - To 30cm tall, multiple from base or simple, from stout taproot, branching above, sub-succulent, angled, erect to ascending, glaucous, reddish.
Leaves - Alternate, glabrous, glaucous, dull green. Lowest leaves petiolate (the petioles to +7cm long), pinnately divided. Ultimate divisions entire, acute to mucronate. Upper leaves sessile or short petiolate, reduced, pinnately lobed. Lobes entire, acute to mucronate.
Inflorescence - Axillary racemes to 8cm long, elongating in fruit. Flowers on pedicels 7-10mm long. Pedicels elongating and drooping in fruit, glabrous. Each pedicels subtended by a glabrous foliaceous bract. Bracts to 1cm long, 7mm broad, acute.
Flowers - Corolla yellow, irregular. Petals 4, unequal, slightly joined at base. Uppermost petal spurred, to 1cm long, glabrous. Apex of upper petal toothed, undulate, to 5mm broad. Spur to -3mm long, curved downward slightly. Inner 2 petals connate around the 6 stamens. Stamens diadelphous. Sepals 2, early deciduous.
Fruit - Terete to slightly compressed capsule to 2.5cm long, 2.5mm in diameter, glabrous, pendant. Seeds black, shiny, 2mm in diameter, with a tuberculate keel.
Flowering - April - May.