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.

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

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.


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

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Smooth Rock Cress (Boechera laevigata)

Photographic Location: Volunteer Trail, Longhunter State Park
Mustard family (Brassicaceae)

    Description: During the first year, this biennial plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves spanning about 6" across. These basal leaves are up to 3½" long and ¾" across; they are obovate or oblanceolate, shallowly lobed or dentate along the margins, and nearly hairless. During the second year, a flowering stalk develops up to 3' tall that is unbranched or sparingly branched; it often leans over to one side. This stalk is pale green, hairless, and glaucous. The cauline (alternate) leaves are up to 8" long and 1" across, becoming smaller as they ascend the central stalk. They are usually lanceolate, hairless, and glaucous; some of the upper leaves are linear. The margins of these leaves are smooth or sparingly dentate. The base of each cauline leaf clasps the central stalk with a pair of basal lobes. Normally, the cauline leaves are some shade of green, but they can become reddish or yellowish green in bright sunlight.

   The central stalk (and any secondary stalks) terminates in an elongated raceme of flowers up to 1½' long. The small flowers bloom near the apex of this raceme, while the siliques (slender cylindrical seedpods) droop from their pedicels below. Each flower is about 4 mm. (1/6") across, consisting of 4 white petals, 4 light green sepals, a pistil with an undivided style, and several stamens. The petals are barely longer than the sepals. The pedicel of each flower is about 8 mm. (1/3") long, hairless, and ascending. The blooming period occurs from mid-spring to early summer and lasts about 1-2 months. Each flower is replaced by a slender silique up to 3½" long that is hairless; it contains a single row of small seeds with winged margins. The siliques spread widely or droop from their pedicels. When the siliques split open to release their seeds, the latter can be carried aloft to some extent by the wind. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.

    Cultivation: The preference is medium shade to partial sunlight, moist to slightly dry conditions, and a soil that is loamy or rocky. The size of a plant and the appearance of its foliage can be strongly influenced by its growing conditions.

    Range & Habitat: Smooth Rock Cress occurs through out TN, where it is native. In some areas, it may be locally common. Habitats include mesic woodlands, thinly wooded bluffs, rocky slopes of bluffs, shaded cliffs, and ravines near streams. This plant is generally found in hilly woodlands where deciduous trees are dominant.


Faunal Associations: Small bees and flies occasionally visit the flowers for nectar or pollen. Bee visitors include Ceratina spp. (little carpenter bees), Nomada spp. (cuckoo bees), Osmia spp. (mason bees), Halictid bees, and Andrenid bees, including Andrena arabis (Rock Cress Andrenid Bee). Some insects feed on the foliage and other parts of Boechera spp. and related genera (Rock Cress species); they include larvae of the leaf-mining fly Liriomya pusilla, the flea beetles Phyllotreta conjuncta and Phyllotreta punctulata, and caterpillars of the butterflies Anthocharis midea (Falcate Orangetip) and Pieris oleracea (Mustard White).

    Comments: This is one of the native species of Rock Cress (Boechera spp. and related genera) that can be found in wooded areas. This plant is not particularly showy and it is often overlooked. Smooth Rock Cress (Boechera laevigata) can be distinguished from other species of Rock Cress as follows: 1) It is completely hairless during the blooming period, 2) it has siliques that are widely spreading or drooping, and 3) its cauline leaves clasp their stems with a pair of basal lobes. These three characteristics are usually sufficient to distinguish this species from other species of Rock Cress. Some other characteristics that are occasionally helpful: 1) Its siliques are circular in cross-section, rather than flattened, and 2) each of its siliques contains a single row of seeds. For example, another woodland species, Boechera canadensis (Sicklepod), has an appearance that is similar to Smooth Rock Cress; they both have drooping siliques. However, the cauline leaves of Sicklepod are sessile, its lower foliage is often hairy, and it has flattened siliques. A scientific synonym of Smooth Rock Cress is Arabis laevigata.*

Reference: John Hilty

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor L.)

Family: Dogbane
Common periwinkle, is a native of Europe often escaped from cultivation. It is a perennial evergreen ground cover that is winter hardy. It is closely related to the big leaf periwinkle (V. major L.), except in size and hardiness. Common periwinkle seldom exceeds a height of 6 inches although runners may trail long distances on the ground. The runners root at the node under moist conditions. The thick glossy leaves form a good ground cover. Small blue flowers occur indeterminately from April to September.

Common periwinkle is adapted to mild climates. It usually requires part shade and ample moisture, but will tolerate full sun if it is adequately watered. It is more hardy than big leaf periwinkle. Moisture and exposure are often more restrictive than soil type on determining adaptation. Common periwinkle is adapted to a wide range of soils. It is found on well drained to poorly drained soils that can be calcareous, alkaline to slightly acidic, and medium textured to fine textured. The plant should be used where there is adequate moisture.

Common periwinkle is distributed throughout the East. It is found through out TN especially on old home sites and cemeteries. Sometimes it is the only indication that a cemetery is close at hand.

Photographic Location: Volunteer Trail at Longhunter State Park in Middle Tennessee.

Plants may be established from rooted cuttings produced in flats or from plant division. Plant on a spacing of 18 inches x 18 inches. Fertilizer should be applied for vigorous establishment. Mulch critical areas immediately after planting. Planting can be done any time of the year when moisture is adequate for establishment. This should ordinarily be planted on areas that can be sprinkled or otherwise irrigated or on sites where average annual precipitation is over 20 inches.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Pink family (Caryophyllaceae)

    Description: This annual plant produces stems about ½–1' long that usually sprawl across the ground. It branches abundantly near the base, but very little toward the tips of the stems. The somewhat succulent stems are green or burgundy; they often have lines of white hairs. Pairs of opposite leaves occur at intervals along these stems. These leaves become larger toward the tips of the stems, spanning up to ¾" in length and ½" across. The leaves toward the base of the plant usually have short petioles that are slightly hairy, while the leaves near the tip of each stem are usually sessile. The leaves are oval-ovate, entire (toothless) along their margins, and hairless on the upper surface; the lower surface is occasionally hairy.

    Individual flowers occur from the axils of the outer pairs of leaves, while the stems terminate in small cymes of white flowers. Each flower is about ¼" across, consisting of 5 white bifid petals (appearing to be 10 petals), 5 green sepals, 3 white styles, 2-10 stamens, and a light green ovary in the center. The sepals are lanceolate, hairy on the outer surface, and longer than the petals; each sepal is at least 1/8" (3 mm.) long. The slender pedicels are finely pubescent. The blooming period occurs during the spring for plants that are winter annuals, and during the summer or autumn for plants that are summer annuals. A typical plant will bloom sporadically for 1-2 months. Each flower is replaced by a cylindrical seed capsule that is light brown with 6 small teeth along its upper rim; it contains several seeds. Each mature seed is reddish brown, somewhat flattened, and orbicular-reniform; its surface is minutely bumpy. The root system is shallow and fibrous. This plant spreads by reseeding itself; it can also spread vegetatively by rooting at the leaf nodes along the stems.
    Range & Habitat: Common Chickweed occurs in every county of Tennessee and it is quite common. This plant is native to Eurasia. Habitats include woodland areas prone to flooding or standing water, thickets, cropland and fallow fields, lawns and gardens, nursery plots, areas adjacent to buildings, and miscellaneous waste areas. While Common Chickweed occurs to a limited extent in natural habitats, where it is sometimes invasive, this plant prefers areas with a history of disturbance.

 Faunal Associations: The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract primarily small bees and flies, including cuckoo bees (Nomada spp.), Halictid bees, Andrenid bees, Syrphid flies, bottle flies (Lucilia spp.), Muscid flies, and Tachinid flies. Less common floral visitors include nectar-seeking butterflies and parasitoid wasps. In the absence of such visitors, the flowers of Common Chickweed can self-pollinate. Some insects feed on the foliage and other parts of Common Chickweed. These species include both the adults and larvae of Cassida flaveola (Pale Tortoise Beetle) and the larvae of such moths as Agrotis venerabilis (Venerable Dart), Haematopis grataria (Chickweed Geometer), and Lobocleta ossularia (Drab Brown Wave); see Clark et al. (2004) and Covell (1984/2005). Vertebrate animals also feed on Common Chickweed and other Stellaria spp. The seeds of such plants are eaten by the Mourning Dove, Chipping Sparrow, House Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Field Sparrow; the Ruffed Grouse also browses on the leaves. The Bird Table displays a more complete list of these seed-eating birds. The foliage, flowers, and seeds are a minor source for various mammals, including the Cottontail Rabbit, Groundhog, and White-tailed Deer (Martin et al, 1951/1961). The seeds are able to pass through the digestive tracts of White-tailed Deer and remain viable, spreading Common Chickweed to new areas (Myers et al, 2004). Other herbivorous mammals probably spread the seeds in their feces as well. The Prairie Deer Mouse eats the seeds of Common Chickweed to a minor extent (Houtcooper, 1978).

    Photographic Location: Taylor Hollow, a Tennessee State Natural Area.

    Comments: This is probably the best known chickweed in TN, although it can be confused with other species. Chickweed species fall into 2 large groups: those with 3 styles (Stellaria spp.) and those with 5 styles (Cerastium spp.). Like other Stellaria spp. (Chickweeds), Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) has only 3 styles. It differs from the others in this genus by length of its sepals (at least 1/8" long), which are conspicuously longer than the petals of its flowers, and by the relatively broad shape of its leaves. The foliage of Common Chickweed resembles Apetalous Chickweed (Stellaria pallida) to a remarkable degree – however, the flowers of Apetalous Chickweed lack petals and its sepals are shorter. The blooming period of Apetalous Chickweed is restricted to the spring, while Common Chickweed often blooms later in the year. Common Chickweed is somewhat variable in the hairiness of its leaves, the length of its stems, and the number of stamens in each flower.*


*Copyright © 2003-2015
   by John Hilty
   All rights reserved.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Michaux's Gladecress (Leavenworthia uniflora)

Michaux's Gladecress is also known as Small Gladecress.

Brassicaceae/Mustard Family

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a annual which can reach 10cm in height (4inches).

Leaves: This plant has basal leaves only. Leaves can reach 7.5cm in length (3inches). Each leaf is divided.

Flowers: The flowers have 4 Regular Parts and are up to 1.5cm wide (0.6 inches). They are white with yellow center. Blooms first appear in late winter and continue into mid spring.

Photographic Location: Cedars of Lebanon Forrest in Middle Tennessee.

Habitat: Glades and other open limestone areas that are wet in the spring.

Range: Indiana and Ohio to as far south as Alabama and Georgia and west to Missouri. *

* www.2bnTheWild.com - Wildflowers of the Southeastern United States

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

First post for 2015

It has been a terrible and long winter here in Tennessee. Finally, it looks like spring is just around the corner.

For the first post this year, I am combining three wildflowers that are blooming now. Usually, its only us wildflower enthusiast that like these wildflowers. Most home owners consider them the bane of their existence! I have seen yards that look like they have a blanket of pink and purple! Very pretty, but I bet the homeowners don't think so.

The first to bloom was Harry or Hoary Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). The original post and description can be seen HERE.

Next two to bloom were; Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) (Click Here for description)

and its close cousin Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) (Click Here for description)

Most people see these as the same plant, but they are different members of the same family. 

March and April are two of the biggest months for wildflowers here in TN. I hope to find many more that I have not seen before. I hope you will continue to follow this blog and learn about the beautiful wildflowers here in TN.

Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Mint family (Lamiaceae)

    Description: This adventive plant is a winter or summer annual (usually the former) that is unbranched and ½–2½' tall. The central stem is strongly 4-angled and largely glabrous. The lower third of the stem in a mature plant is often devoid of leaves. The opposite leaves are up to 2" long and across. They are densely crowded together along the stem, each pair of leaves rotating 90° from the pair of leaves immediately below or above. Young leaves at the apex of the stem are tinted purple, but they become dull green with maturity. The leaves are broadly cordate or deltoid, crenate along their margins, and finely pubescent. Their petioles are short. The upper surface of each leaf has a reticulated network of indented veins, creating a wrinkly appearance.

    Sessile whorls of flowers occur above the leaf axils, and a terminal whorl of flowers occurs at the apex of the stem. Each tubular flower is about ½" long and has well-defined upper and lower lips. The lower lip is divided into 2 rounded lobes, and there are insignificant side lobes that are reduced in size to small teeth. The corolla is purplish pink, pink, or white – the upper lobe is usually a darker color than the lower lobe, which is often white with purple spots. The tubular calyx is green or purplish green, and has 5 slender teeth that spread outward slightly. The blooming period usually occurs during mid- to late spring and lasts about 1½ months, although plants that are summer annuals may bloom during the fall. Each flower is replaced by 4 nutlets. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant occasionally forms dense colonies by reseeding itself.

    Cultivation: Typical growing conditions are full sun to light shade and moist fertile soil. The foliage is little bothered by disease and insect pests. This plant develops quickly during the cool weather of spring.

    Range & Habitat: Purple Dead Nettle occurs occasionally throughout Tennessee. This plant is native to Eurasia. Habitats include moist fallow fields, banks of ditches and drainage canals, gardens and nursery plots, weedy edges of woodlands, and various kinds of waste ground. Degraded sites with a history of disturbance are preferred.

    Faunal Associations: According to Müller (1873/1883) of Germany, the nectar of the flowers attracts long-tongued bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, and Anthophorid bees. Another visitor sucking nectar from the flowers was Bombylius major (Giant Bee Fly), which also occurs in North America.

    Photographic Location: Sycamore Ridge Ranch in Wilson County TN.

    Comments: The most distinctive characteristic of Purple Dead Nettle is the purple tint of the young leaves at the apex of the stem. With the exception of Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit), other Lamium spp. (Dead Nettles) are uncommon perennial plants with larger flowers (¾" or longer). Henbit is a sprawling weedy plant with sessile leaves near the flowers, while the same leaves of Purple Dead Nettle have short petioles. All of the species in this genus are native to Eurasia. The common name 'Dead Nettle' refers to the resemblance of the leaves to those members of the Nettle family with stinging hairs. However, Lamium spp. lack stinging hairs, therefore they are the safe, or 'dead,' nettles to be around. Another common name for Lamium purpureum is 'Red Dead Nettle.'

Friday, October 31, 2014

Clammy Cuphea (Cuphea petiolata (L.) Koehne)

Family - Lythraceae

Stems - To +60cm tall, erect, herbaceous, branching, reddish-purple, dense simple and glandular pubescent, viscid, from branching taproot, single or multiple from base.

Leaves - Opposite, petiolate. Petioles to 1.3cm long, dense glandular and simple pubescent, reddish-purple above, greenish below. Blade lanceolate to lance-ovate, entire, acute, to 4.5cm long, -2cm broad, often slightly oblique at base, scabrous above, pubescent on midrib below nad sparse pubescent on rest of blade.

Inflorescence - 1-3 axillary flowers near apex of stems. Pedicels to 5mm long, dense pubescent (glandular and simple), with pair of minute opposite bracts at about the middle.

Flowers - Petals 5, unequal, free, rose-purple, to 3.5mm long, suborbicular to obovate, drying to a deep blue-purple. Stamens 10 - 11, included, unequal, adnate at upper 1/4 of floral tube. Filaments pinkish, to 2mm long, with densely pilose(hairs white to pink). Style included, 3-4mm long, bifurcate at apex Ovary white, with thin papery exterior, 5mm long, glabrous. Placentation axile. Floral tube to 1.4cm long, densely glandular pubescent(hairs reddish-purple), 12-nerved, gibbous at base, 6-lobed. Lobes acute, to -1mm long. Upper-most lobe longer than others. Floral tube splitting in fruit and ovary deflexing. Seeds green, discoid, minute-tuberculate, 2.5-3mm in diameter.


Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Open woods, thickets, prairies, pastures, glades, roadsides.

Photographic Location: Wilson County, Tennessee.

Other info. - This little species is found in middle and east Tennessee. The plant is easy to ID in the field because of its opposite leaves, purplish stems, and densely glandular pubescent floral tubes and stems.
A synonym is C. viscossissima Jacq.

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 Tennessee, 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.

*Reference: John Hilty