Erigeron & Symphyotrichum sp.

Symphyotrichum sp. on 10-3-18, #514-4.

Hello again! I woke up this morning and the thermometer on the back porch said almost 40° F. I felt like going back to bed but I was already far too awake for that. So, I made my coffee, fed the cats, and started working on this post.

 

While I was taking photos for the Wildflower Walk posts I had come across this daisy flowered plant in many areas. They are quite common so I didn’t take any of their photos at first. I thought they were basically the same plant. But, on October 3, I decided to take photos of one in the north hayfield. It wasn’t that tall because this area had been mowed. I had remembered taking photos of this plant several years ago and also of another species that had somewhat different flowers. That was back in 2013… Back then I wasn’t so intrigued with “daisy-flowered” plants because they were pretty common and not so interesting.

This time, however, something was a little strange… When I made my way from the north hay field to the back pasture there were many areas with these flowers. Again, not that interesting… Same plants different location. Then I crawled over the fence and made my way to the southeast corner of the south hayfield. Then I noticed something weird…

 

The flowers there were a little pink and had longer petals… I took a few photos of them and other wildflowers as I walked further down the side of the hayfield. The border between the hayfield and the trail (which was the former Rock Island Railroad tracks) is way overgrown and looks like a total disaster. There are many wildflower species in all this mess mainly of Japanese Honeysuckle and blackberry vines.

All along the south hayfield, all these “daisy-like” flowers were the same but not like the plants in the north hayfield. Most of them had this slight pink color.

Later on, I got online to do some investigating. The missouriplants.com website only had one plant that looked like the first photo I took. It identified the plant as Symphyotrichum pilosum (White Heath Aster). Anyway, it looked close enough to determine that’s what it was. But what about the pinkish flowers? So, I checked with the websites pink flowers plants with alternate leaves… Nothing… Then I went to the wildflowersearch.org website and typed in Symphyotrichum. There I found 20 different Symphyotrichum species in Missouri! Sure enough, some are white, pink, and lavender… That only led me back to take more photos. Not just of the flowers, but the back side of the flowers, stems, and leaves… When you don’t find a simple match, it can get quite complicated.

So, on October 4, I went back to take more photos. I decided I would take a different route to see what else I could find. As I crossed the electric fence by the lagoon I saw a plant like the one in the north pasture. Then I ventured to the southwest corner. HOLY CRAP!!!!

 

Here was another group of similar plants with darker pink flowers. Not only that…

 

They were growing much taller than me…

OK, I have to tell you a little secret… I am leading up to a discovery of another genus… Umm… One of the plants I first photographed in May. There are not very many here…

 

All of the species of Symphyotrichum look basically the same when you look underneath their flowers… missouriplants.org has this to say…

Inflorescence – Paniculate arrangement of flower heads. Heads pedunculate. Peduncles to +1cm long, each subtended by a foliaceous bract, densely pilose. Stems in the inflorescence densely pilose.

Involucre – Cylindric, 5-6mm tall, 3-4mm in diameter. Phyllaries apically acuminate to attenuate, with green spreading apices (the very tip hardened, sharp, and translucent), subulate, translucent but with a green midrib and apex, 4-5mm long, 1mm broad, mostly glabrous internally and externally but with some glands externally near the apex. Apical margins minutely glandular serrate (use a lens to see).

How many words do you understand?

Then there is this one…

Not a species of Symphyotrichum

 

It is Erigeron annuus (Annual Fleabane) or possibly Erigeron stringosus (Prairie Fleabane). Missouriplants.org has three species of Erigeron and wildflowersearch.org has two. The third species is Erigeron pulchellus but I think I can easily rule it out. I need to investigate further to identify this plant as E. annuus or E. stringosus. I was leaning toward Erigeron annuus, but now more toward E. stringosus. E. annuus can have pinkish flowers (which I have seen none) and the undersides are somewhat different. You also have to look at the amount and size of the hairs on the stems… It is possible both species are present. But, as I said, there are not very many of these plants here.

As far as which species of Symphyotrichum there are here… I think that will require further study in 2019 because I am quite sure there are more than two. Some are tall, some are shorter. Some only have white flowers while others are variable and can have pinkish flowers. Some only have pinkish flowers.

The stems and leaves also play an important part in plant ID. When there are multiple species possible, you have to read information from the experts. You also have to start working on ID early in the season because the hairs on the stems may fall off as summer progresses. I come to that conclusion because some species I have correctly identified, that should have hairy stems, seem to be bald in October… Some species have smaller hairs than others, some only on certain parts. So, if they have all fallen off by October, I need to start looking at them earlier, from spring through midsummer. Even though I am fairly certain that I have correctly identified many species, I certainly could be wrong.

I have come to one conclusion, though, that is quite obvious. I must be a little whacky to get involved with wildflower ID when I have no idea what I am even talking about. 🙂 I am not actually doing the hard work because the horticulturalists and botanists have already done that. I am just looking at their descriptions to identify what is here. I am learning from them and I am very grateful for all their hard work. It may look simple, but it is very complicated to be able to distinguish that there are different species in some genera and not merely variable from one location to another. Which is also, if not more, complicated.

I thoroughly enjoy learning about plants and wildflowers are a fairly new interest. Then there are the butterflies I try and photograph and ID. I found out it is much better to chase them around in the back pasture, out of sight, than in public view of the neighbors and people driving by. What would they think if they saw a 57-year-old man chasing butterflies? Yeah, I am laughing. 🙂

So, until next time… Have a great day or rest of your evening wherever you may be. Be safe, stay positive, and GET DIRTY!

Wildflower Walk Part 3

Gleditsia triacanthos (Honey Locust) seed pods dangling in a tree.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all doing well! The weather has dramatically changed here and not for the better. An “F” is in the forecast and even “S”! “S” in October?!?!?! I have never seen that happen before and hope I never do. I moved the plants inside last week and now I have to figure out what to do with all of them. They all have a place so now I have to get them there.

This is the last wildflower walk post. That’s a good thing because in a few days I will probably not be able to take any more wildflower photos until next spring.

The above photo is of the neighbors Honey Locust (by the northeast corner of the north hay field). There are a lot of pods on the ground and in the tree.

I found a couple of very long pods in the south hayfield but I couldn’t see the tree they came from (maybe from a tree along the trail). These trees grow pretty tall, so on a windy day, their pods can travel fairly far. I have heard a lot of talk from farmers about how they battle the Honey and Black Locust trees and their seedlings. I think there are only two or three Honey Locust here on the farm but I have never seen any seed pods on them. They are very old and tall trees with LOTS of HUGE thorns.

Well, I better get to the wildflowers, huh?

<<<<21>>>>

Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle)

The Japanese Honeysuckle still has a few flowers but nothing like earlier. This is definitely not a species to plant in your garden as they are quite invasive! Thankfully they are only present in the fence rows and along the boundary between the farm and the trail. I did see one coming up next to a tree in front of the chicken house, but I pulled it up as soon as I saw it. It is a good thing the Japanese Honeysuckle doesn’t produce many seeds. I thought I saw some in one spot but then I realized it was wrapped around its cousin with the seeds. The above photo is a little deceptive, I suppose, which I didn’t notice when I took the photo. The large leaves are NOT from the honeysuckle. They are possibly from a blackberry.

<<<<22>>>>

Lonicera maackii (Bush Honeysuckle)

Strange, but I just noticed the Lonicera maackii (Bush Honeysuckle) when I was taking these photos. I had no idea what it was but I had to ID what was growing these berries… As it turns out, they are another invasive Honeysuckle. This one doesn’t vine like its Japanese cousin but it is invasive nonetheless. I saw this one close to the southeast corner of the south hayfield and there are a few more growing farther down the side. There were, of course, Japanese Honeysuckle wrapped around its branches trying to confuse me. The Bush Honeysuckle produce flowers similar to the Japanese so that is why I didn’t notice they were a different species during the summer

<<<<Doesn’t count as a wildflower>>>>

Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange)

The Osage Orange have been really prolific this year and the fruit is HUGE. I guess you can call them fruit… Around here, we call them Hedge Trees for some reason. At least that is what was brought up calling them. Most of the old fences with old fence posts are from these trees. They never rot and are very, very hard. I still have a lot of hedge posts that have been in the ground at least since the 1960’s when grandpa built the original fences. They are STILL very solid in the ground because I think grandpa put concrete around them. The old posts have a lot of cracks in them which is where I drive in the fence staples. If it weren’t for the cracks I would never get a staple in the post.

 

I was on a forum a while back and someone posted a photo of an Osage Orange and asked if it was a walnut… Oh, I think I posted about that before. Well, I guess if you have never been around them you wouldn’t know what they are.

<<<<23>>>>

Monarda fistulosa (Bee Balm, Bergamot, Etc.)

Even though the Monarda fistulosa haven’t been flowering for a while, their old heads are still very interesting.

<<<<24>>>>

Persicaria hydropiperoides (Wild Water Pepper, Swamp Smartweed)

There are several species of Persicaria growing on the farm and it took several trips to get them properly identified. The Persicaria hydropiperoides is very similar to Persicaria punctata (Dotted Knotweed). The main difference I saw was at the joins on the stems. All Persicaria, and many other plants, have a sheath (ocrea or ochrea) that forms around the joints where a stipule also grows. A stipule is like a stem part of a leaf. Anyway, the ocrea on Persicaria species all have hairs growing from the top. The joints on Persicaria hydropiperoides are reddish brown. That coloration is farther above the joint on Persicaria punctata instead of at the joint. There may be other features that separate the two and there may be indeed Persicaria punctata growing somewhere on the farm. All the white-flowered Persicaria I checked, though, have the same features.

Persicaria really like damp areas but are also drought tolerant. The biggest colony of Persicaria (three species) is behind the chicken house under a couple of Chinese Elms. The biggest colony of Persicaria hydropiperoides is next to the pond in the back pasture. Wildflowersearch.org lists 11 species that grow in our area. I have identifies three here. Typically, most people call any of them Smartweed.

<<<<25>>>>

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb)

The Persicaria maculosa is by far the most colorful of the Persicaria crew. They not only grow in the pasture, but also in the flower bed on the north side of the house. You would be surprised how many people comment on them before the other plabnts in the bed. A friend came by a few days ago, and even though the Heliotrope had a nice, big beautiful purple flower, he commented on the Smartweed! Well, truthfully, the only reason they are still in the bed is because I have taken a liking to them as well.

 

One of the common names for the Persicaria maculosa is Lady’s Thumb. Not all them have this coloration on their leaves, but many other Persicaria species also have this pattern. I had previously identified this plant as Polygonum persicaria which is now a synonym of Persicaria maculosa.

Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 100 accepted species of Persicaria from nearly EVERY country in the world.

<<<<26>>>>

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed)

There aren’t as many of the Pinkweed as the other two species in this post. They have pale pink flowers and their flowers are clustered close together as with the P. maculosa. The flowers of the Pinkweed are larger than the other Persicaria species.

There is actually a fourth species but I didn’t take any photos of it this year… It is the Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Knotweed or Jumpseed). I don’t know if you remember, but I posted about the one growing under the steps to the back porch last year. There is more than one now and I also noticed them in a few other places.

I also took photos of a Persicaria species at the park in 2013 which I identified as Persicaria attenuata. That is possibly not correct and that species is not on any wildflower plant ID websites for Missouri. Ummm… Plants of the World Online doesn’t even have it listed although version 1.1 of The Plant List says it is an accepted name. The Wikipedia also has a page for the species and says it is native to Asia and Australia… It has been five years so I don’t remember how I ID’d it as Persicaria attenuata.

<<<<27>>>>

Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose)

This is, of course, rose hips from a Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose). Let me see, now… How many Multiflora Rose bushes are growing on the farm? I really don’t know and probably don’t want to know anyway. I have cut down several, pulled out a few with the tractor, mowed over them with the rotary mower, and yes, even sprayed with Roundup or something similar. No matter what, they always come back. Now, I will admit, they only are a pain in the neck where the electric fences are growing and only then when I need to replace the wire or clean out the fence row. The worse is when I need to remove the old wire and posts to mow and a post is smack in the middle of a bush. As far as I am concerned the Multiflora Rose is here to stay because it wins pretty much every argument and fight we have had.

Rose hips are very valuable and have many uses. I read where you can even eat them like a berry but the seeds have hairs inside that you need to watch out for. (I will take their word for it.) For sure, Multiflora Roses make a great hiding place for rabbits and quail. But then again, I haven’t seen any quail on the farm for many years and I don’t remember seeing any rabbits this entire summer.

<<<<28>>>>

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan)

There are only a few colonies of Rudbeckia hirta left blooming on the farm. That is, I am 95% they are Rudbeckia hirta. I have several of them growing in flower beds, besides the domesticated cultivars, but they fizzled out quite a while back. So, that makes me wonder a little.

<<<<29>>>>

Solanum americanum (Black Nightshade)

Yep… This is the Black Nightshade. The name itself reminds me of the grim reaper. I saw several of these growing in the pasture behind the chicken house and really hadn’t noticed them before. So, since the flowers were very small and interesting, I just had to take a lot of photos to make sure I had a few good ones for ID. Then I found out they were Solanum americanum, the Black Nightshade. I went out a few days after that and they were completely gone… I guess the cows must have found them tasty. These plants are very poison and have many bad chemical compounds and are even poison to livestock. It is just weird how these plants disappeared… The species is very variable and has been confused with other species in some areas. The three websites I use the most all agreed from the several photos I took that this plant is indeed the Black Nightshade, Solanum americanum

<<<<30>>>>

Solidago sp. (Goldenrod)

Of course, this is a Solidago species, but which one. While there are several species of Solidago that can easily be ruled out, there are many that look so much alike. Even botanists and horticulturalists have trouble telling some of the species apart. According to the Missouri Conservation Department Field Guide, there are at least 20 species of Solidago in Missouri but their website doesn’t have separate listings. The wildflowersearch.org website does list all 20 but that website doesn’t show distinguishing features. There are links to other websites so maybe a few of them can further help to identify the species… The photo of the above plant was as tall as I am and all the flowers on the plants in this group had already turned brown or getting there.

 

There were shorter plants growing in a few other areas but that is because they had been mowed when the hay was baled. Wildflowersearch.org is a good site because it tells you how likely various species are to grow in a given area… I stopped looking after five candidates said they were 100% likely to grow here…

 

Solidago species have very complex flowers. I took several close-ups but this one was the only one that wasn’t blurry.

In a future post, I have two daisy-flowered species I want to show you. At first, I thought they were the same species but were different because some of them had been mowed off earlier. BUT, that was not the case. Two different genera and possibly more than three species…

I am still amazed at how many different species of wildflowers are present on this 38 acres. I took a few photos of plants that weren’t flowering to keep an eye on next spring and summer. I saw quite a few just walking across the south hayfield. Just think how many wildflowers are now growing along the trail in all the trees that have grown up… A few years ago I walked around in one area looking for morels and saw quite a few interesting plants including some ferns.

OK. I better stop writing so I can publish this post. Until next time… Take care, stay warm (or cool depending on where you are), stay positive, and be safe! As always… GET DIRTY!

Wildflower Walk Part 2

<<<<11>>>>

Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth, Spiny Pigweed, Etc.)

Hello again! Here is part 2 of the Wildflower Walk. Starting out with one of the most dreaded weeds in the pasture is the Amaranthus spinosus also known as the Spiny Amaranth. I remember my grandpa battling these as a kid, digging and hacking away. Well, they are still here in great numbers, mainly in the area behind the barn, around the pond, and… Come to think of it, they are just about everywhere in the front pasture.

All the photos on this post were taken on September 8…

They have these darn little thorns on their stems that make them such a pain. When I put “the good stuff” in the garden from where I feed hay, these crazy guys come in the garden. You either have to use gloves to pull them up or grab the lowest part of their stem.

 

This weed is native of the tropical Americas but has been introduced to almost every continent. Hard to imagine, but it is a food crop and used in many dishes in Africa and several Asian countries. In India, they use the ashes of the fruit to treat jaundice. Water extracts from its roots and leaves have been used as a diuretic in Vietnam.

<<<<12>>>>

Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)

Many people know this plant all too well when it comes to allergies. Luckily, I haven’t been bothered with allergies but I know several people who have the problem. Many have never even seen a Ragweed.

 

Even though the flowers are tiny, they are LOADED with very potent pollen.

 

Even when not in flower, the plants can be recognized by their tri-lobed leaves. Some of their leaves aren’t trilobed, and of course, there are other plants with tri-lobed leaves that aren’t Ragweeds.

<<<<13>>>>

Bidens bipinnata (Spanish Needles)

Bidens bipinnata is the naughty cousin of the Bidens aristosa known as Spanish Needles (and a few other choice names I can’t write down).

These are my second least favorite of the stick-tight crew.

 

Quite often when I need to walk into an area where these are growing I change my mind and go somewhere else.

<<<<14>>>>

Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle)

I didn’t realize this plant was a thistle until I took these photos and did the research to find its name. Yeah, the flowers look like thistles alright, but the leaves are nothing like the other two or three species on the farm. My favorite didn’t come up this year which means my eradication program worked for it. 🙂 Getting rid of thistles is fairly easy without spray and you make a big dent in the population within three years (the same as with spraying). Just stick your shovel into the stem, about 3″ below the surface, and that’s it.

 

The bad thing about thistles is that their flowers are so neat!

 

While their leaves do have a few small needles, they are nothing like the other species. These don’t seem to be as plentiful, either.

<<<<15>>>>

Commelina communis (Dayflower)

This cute little flower is the Commelina communis which is the Dayflower. It is in the Commelinaceae family with the Spiderworts, Purple Hearts, White Gossamer, Wandering Jews, and so on.

 

There are several species of Commelina with similar flowers. The flowers emerge between a folded up leaf at the top of the stem, just as with Tradescantia pallida (Purple Heart and Pale Puma) and the Tradescantia sillamontana (White Gossamer) on the front porch.

<<<<16>>>>

Eupatorium altissimum (Fall Thoroughwort)

From a distance, you might think this plant is the Ageratina altissimum (White Snakeroot) which is in part 1. This plant is Eupatorium altissima, the Fall Thoroughwort. Apparently, some botanists were confused as well, even Carl von Linnaeus himself. Carl Linnaeus named and described the Eupatorium altissima in AND the Ageratum altissima in Species Plantarum in 1753. Then, in 1754, he changed Ageratum altissima to Eupatorium altissima in his description in Systema Vegetabilium. Did he forget he already gave a plant that name? The error was eventually found out, but it took until 1970! For over 200 years there were two species being called Eupatorium altissima. Hmmm…

 

OK, I know this group of plants in the above photo is not White Snakeroot. 🙂 GEEZ! Now I have to figure out how I came to that conclusion again. I need leaves and stems for its page.

<<<<17>>>>

Euphorbia corollata (Flowering Spurge)

Well, I don’t think there is any mistaking this species. There don’t seem to me that many of these on the farm and I only notice them in one area. They are easily overlooked, though, because their flowers are very small and can be easily be lost in a patch of taller vegetation.

 

Their little flowers attract quite a number of insects of many types… As with most plants in this genus, their stems and leaves contain toxic latex.

<<<<18>>>>

Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia)

I have seen this Petunia looking plants growing in the ditch along the road in front of the house for several years. I hadn’t taken any photos of them and then I found several growing in the pasture. Low and behold, they really are Petunias! Well, not like the one we grow in planters and hanging baskets. Different family… The Petunias we grow as an annual are in the Solanaceae family and Ruellia species are in the Acanthaceae family.

 

They are in the same family as the Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) I had in Mississippi and what Mrs. Wagler gave me a while back. They certainly have the classic Ruellia throat. Common names for this species include Wild Petunia, Fringeleaf Wild Petunia, Hairy Petunia, and Low Wild Petunia. The Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder says they from to 2′ tall, but the ones on the farm never have the opportunity to grow that tall. I am either mowing them off in the ditch and maybe the cows eat them in the pasture. Hmmm… Wonder what they taste like?

 

Interesting how many species are in some genera and where they can be found growing in the wild from various parts of the world. Although the Wikipedia says the Ruellia humilis are native to the Eastern United States, the USDA Plants Database says they are in many states from the east coast to the midwest.

<<<<19>>>>

Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain)

The Blue Vervain is found flowering in a few of the lower areas in the back pasture from June through October. They like to grow in damp meadows and river beds.  The Missouri Botanical Garden says they can grow up to 6′ tall. Hmmm… Maybe I should mark their spot and avoid mowing them off to see how tall they can grow here. Butterflies seem to really love their flowers. I always like their tall spikes of purple flowers. They are native throughout the United States and most of Canada.

<<<<20>>>>

Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s Ironweed)

In my opinion, Baldwin’s Ironweed has some of the most beautiful flowers of all the wildflowers on the farm and they grow just about everywhere. They start flowering sometime in June or July and are pretty much finished in September. I know this is October but these photos were taken on September 8. 🙂

 

I realize to many it is just a darned old Ironweed, but if you take a closer look, you will see very interesting and complex flowers. As you can imagine, they are a butterfly magnet. Although they can grow up to 5′ tall, they normally reach only 3-4′. There are many species of Ironweed that prefer damper soil, but the Vernonia baldwinii does well in dry areas as well.

 

It gets its common name from being a very stiff and tough-stemmed plant and by the rusty color of the dried up flowers. When you run over this plant with a mower or try to pull it up, you will see that they are very tough.

Well, I think I am finished for this post and ready to start on Wildflower Walk Part 3.

Until next time… Stay well, positive, and be safe. As always GET DIRTY! I need to do some mowing and other things around the yard today.

Wildflower Walk Part 1

<<<<1>>>>

Ageratina altissima (White Snakeroot), 9-6-18, #503-2.

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I have been working on this post since September 9 when I took the first wildflower photos. I had to re-shoot a few more than once because some of the photos were kind of blurry. It is hard to get good photos of the smaller flowers and I don’t realize they aren’t good enough until I view them on the computer. I usually take at least two photos of each “pose” but even at that I still have to re-shoot.

Different wildflower species flower different times of the year while a few are at it all summer long. Some are showing signs of age as with some of the perennials in the flower beds. Identifying wildflowers is a little more time consuming than with plants we buy with labels. There are several websites I use for ID and not all plants are on every website. Several genera have several different representatives here on the farm and some look very similar and are hard to identify… So, sometimes I have to go back to the plants and look for distinguishing features. I have to take photos of the plant, the front and back of the flowers, upper and lower leaves (if they are different) and the stems (because various species in the same genera have hairs and some don’t). That always leads to new discoveries and more photos. I am not even going to count how many wildflower photos I took from September 9 through October 6 but I have identified more than 30 species I hadn’t before.

I made positive ID on the last confusing plant today and realized why I was confused. There are at least three species that look similar and there are over 20 species of one of the genera that can be present here… Yeah. It was weird. I am doing a separate post about them. I could also do a separate post about the Smartweed. There are at least four species here and a couple have a few key features that distinguish them from other similar species.

I have also taken a few butterfly photos which can also be a challenge. They seem not to stay in one place very long and I wind up chasing them around a while. The Skippers, which are very interesting, have that habit which is apparently why they are called Skippers. They skip from one spot to another after only a few seconds. Eventually, they get tired and need to rest but sometimes by the time I catch up, they have finished.

Here we go… In alphabetical order… But there is MORE to come. 🙂

Ageratina altissima (White Snakeroot) on 9-6-18, #503-1

Ageratina altissima (White Snakeroot)

The above photo and at the top of the page is Ageratina altissima (White Snakeroot). There are individual small groups here and there but several very large groups as well. They have nice “Ageratum-like” flowers. Like many wildflowers, however, it is a poisonous weed. They flower from July through October until “F” gives them a good zap.

<<<<2>>>>

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Sunflower, Bearded Beggarticks, etc.) on 9-6-18, #503-8.

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Sunflower, Bearded Beggarticks, etc.)

The Bidens aristosa is a common sight on the farm. The photo above is part of a very large colony near the pond in the back of the farm.

 

It’s bright golden-yellow flowers are visited by MANY different insects to try to identify. Well, at least if they will sit still long enough. The plants can grow fairly tall, up to 6′, if they are allowed. Since I mow the back pasture they stay fairly short.

 

When identifying many plants whose flowers look like other species, you may have to look at many features. Flip the flowers over and look at their undersides…

Involucre – Flat, to 2.3cm broad. Bracts biseriate. Outer phyllaries +/-15, with fimbriate margins, linear, acute, often twisted, to +1cm long, 1.2-1.4mm broad, pubescent externally, often with revolute margins. Inner phyllaries yellowish, with dark purple apices, ovate-lanceolate, entire, glabrous, 6-7mm long, 2-3mm broad, erect in fruit.

Hmmm… Involucre… The definition is a whorl or rosette of bracts surrounding an inflorescence (especially capitulum) or at the base of an umbel… My baldness is not just because of heredity…

This species is one of “several” plants with Beggarticks as part of their common name. I haven’t had a problem with the seeds of this species sticking to me because they are not at all like their cousin in part 2. These have smaller dried up flower heads and tiny seeds that are easily brushed off if they do happen to stick to your clothes.

 

<<<<3>>>>

Clematis terniflora (Autumn Clematis) on 9-6-18.

Clematis terniflora (Autumn Clematis, Virgin’s Bower, etc.)

There are a “few” species on the farm that will get a little carried away (understatement). The Clematis terniflora is one of them. Luckily, for the moment, there are only two spots this species is growing on the farm and they are about 20′ or so apart along the south fence in the front pasture. I admit from a distance they appear to look very nice if you are into vines… There is a house on Main Street that has this growing on a short concrete wall along their sidewalk. Hmmm… No doubt it came up volunteer.

 

Their flowers are very interesting and have a pleasant scent. They are also attractive to many insects. I took a lot of photos of their flowers for some strange reason which will go on this plants page…

 

The first two photos above were taken on September 6 and the one above on October 4. GEEZ! What a change!

 

<<<<4>>>>

Croton capitatus (Hogwort, Woolly Croton, Goatweed) on 9-6-18, #503-23.

Croton capitatus (Hogwort, Woolly Croton, or Goatweed)

There aren’t many of Croton capitatus on the farm but they are pretty interesting. I have tried to get better photos of their flowers but they always come out too blurry. Their flowers are a little strange and look like they never quite blossomed. But, that appears to be a distinguishing feature.

 

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Croton willdenowii (Common Rushfoil) on 9-6-18, #503-24.

Croton willdenowii (Common Rushfoil)

Croton wiildenowii is also growing here and there in the back pasture. There are several species of Croton that look similar, but this one is distinguished by its reddish-brown stems (among other things).

 

Its leaves are kind of blunt at the tips whereas some of the other species are more pointed. The flowers…

“Staminate flowers with 4-6 stamens. Filaments white, 1.5mm long, glabrous. Anthers white, .4mm broad. Petals 4, 1.1mm long, white. Sepals 4, .7mm long, acute, densely stellate pubescent. Pistillate flowers 5-lobed(calyx). Lobes 2mm long, attenuate, densely stellate pubescent. Ovary ovoid, 1.2mm long, densely stellate pubescent. Styles 2, bifurcate and appearing as 4 or more, 1mm long. Capsule green, lepidote, 4mm long, ovoid but slightly compressed, 1-seeded.” (From http://www.missouriplants.com).

 

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Desmodium perplexum {Perplexing Tick Trefoil) on 9-6-18, #503-28.

Desmodium perplexum (Perplexing Tick Trefoil)

Perplexing is a very good name for this Tick Trefoil. There are several different species of Desmodium on missouriplants.com and the Missouri Department of Conservation field guide was no help either. There was always something not quite right. So, I posted photos on the Facebook group called Missouri Plants Identification. One member suggested it was Desmodium perplexum and introduced me to yet another website (www.wildflowersearch.com). Then I found out she is a horticulturalist right here in Missouri. This website shows 14 different species of Desmodium. How do I know I Desmodium perplexum is the right one? I don’t remember. 🙂 I will figure it out again when I write their page. Just look up the word “perplexing” and you will have a good idea… The problem is, there may actually be more than one species here…

 

Their flowers kind of reminds one of sweet peas…

 

Look familiar? Such neat flowers with terrible seeds!

 

I hate it when that happens! Well, it wasn’t so bad that time. 🙂

Reminds me of a story from when I was a kid. When I was little I used to get stick-tights on my socks almost every day (the little tiny ones). My mother finally got tired of having to remove them when she did laundry so she started making me do it. Well, I was just a little kid and pulling stick tights off my socks wasn’t my idea of fun. So, I guess a few socks slipped in the hamper with stick-tights still on them. Anyway, mom didn’t remove them either… Trying to get them off after they have been washed and dried is much harder. From then on I tried to avoid stick-tights.

 

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Impatiens capensis (Jewelweed) on 9-6-18, #503-21.

Impatiens capensis (Jewelweed)

A few years ago when I went into the swamp and discovered this plant for the first time I was amazed. I thought, “What a neat plant!” The swamp was LOADED with these plants and they were nowhere else on the farm. I posted about this plant and received several comments from different parts of the world. Apparently, this plant gets around and most of the comments weren’t favorable… In August I went back into the swamp to see if there were any of these guys blooming and there were none. Then, low and behold, I found a patch in the fence row along the front pasture. As you can see by the above photo, it is not a small patch..

.

Now, I realize that the word invasive is an understatement where this plant is concerned. But, they are not alone in this regard because there are others that rudely do the same thing. To think it all begins with a tiny seed…

 

Even so, I think their flowers are very neat. The way they just hang and dangle from a thin thread. Look at the little pigs tail on the end. 🙂

 

The seed pods are also pretty neat. When I took the above photo on September 6, their seeds weren’t ready enough to show you what happens when you give them a little squeeze. When they are “ripe”, they will explode leaving behind what looks like a wadded up rubber band. The seeds fly out everywhere. I have photos from before but I don’t have their page finished yet… 🙂 Actually, I haven’t started on the wildflower pages. I was in the S’s on the main plant list and had to start over and make updates. Then spring came, then summer which leads us up to now… So, hopefully, this winter I can get a lot more finished.

 

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Kummerowia sp. on 9-6-18, #503-27.

Kummerowia stipulacea (Korean Clover) or Kummerowia striata (Japanese Clover) (Korean or Japanese Lespedeza)

This is one of the plants I was confused about. From one website to another the flowers look the same or different. It’s like some are backward and the flowers are with the wrong plant. Doing an image search was the same way. It is quite clear I am not the only one that is confused. The only true way to tell the species apart is from the hairs on their stems… They are either antrorse or retrorse which means they either point upward or downward. K. stipulacea have antrorse hairs while K. striata have striata hairs. When I realized I could have a definite way to identify these plants growing in multitude near the back pond, I was pretty excited! But, it was late at night so I had to wait until the next day. Not to say I haven’t ventured out in the wee hours of the morning to ID a plant in the recent past. 🙂

 

So, the next day I went to examine the stems for hairs… I could NOT see any hair at all. Not even with a magnifying glass! Some plants lose their hair with age like people. Isn’t that weird? So, perhaps this is one of those species and I need to check their hair in the spring… We will see when that time comes. I have a lot of photos of whatever it is. Both species may be present…

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With nature, we learn patience. No need to get frustrated and try to rush it, because it just doesn’t work that way. We also learn the old saying, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” If you have an opportunity today, it may be gone tomorrow. 🙂 It may rain, get eaten, fly away, dry up, rot, go to seed, run away, migrate, or just simply die… I better stop there. They do say opportunity only knocks once, but I can read the same offers with timers every day on the internet. Oh yeah, that isn’t in nature…

 

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Sagittaria latifolia (Arrowhead on 9-6-18, #503-31.

Sagittaria latifolia (Arrowhead)

Sagittaria latifolia, the Arrowhead, are water plants that grow in the swamp in the far southeast corner of the farm. They are common water plants and many people grow them in their fish pools.

 

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Silphium integrifolium (Rosinweed) on 9-6-18, #503-32.

Silphium integrifolium (Rosinweed)

When I was taking photos in the north end of the back pasture, along the electric fence, I noticed this plant with very interesting green flowers. I looked for more of them and found none. How in the world could there just be one? I searched and searched on many websites to identify this plant and found nothing…

You know, it’s leaves kind of reminds me of the Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper Spoons).

 

Finally, I posted it to the Facebook group and was told it was Silphium integrifolium after the petals had fallen off… Although this species does flower through the second week in October, this particular plant didn’t. When I went back to take more wildflower photos the next day, this plant was completely gone. How could there have been just one and then it completely disappear overnight?

I’m going to stop here and get ready for part 2 which were photos taken the day after the ones in this post… So, until next time… You know the drill. GET DIRTY!

What Just Came In The Mail?

Hello folks! I hope this post finds you all doing well. We have had some cooler temperatures in my neck of the woods the past few days. While the cooler temps are a nice break from the heat, it means “you know what” is on the way. I know many people like fall, and for some, it is their favorite time of the year. For me, it means I will soon have to bring plants inside then the big ZAP will come. It actually got down to 44° Wednesday night (Thursday AM)! It also said it would be warmer the following days and evenings. While many plants are still OK, it will trigger dormacy in others. My bigger Amorphophallus already went dormant last week but the smaller plants are still alive and well. That’s weird. Why did the older plants go dormant and the smaller ones didn’t? Just another learning experience, huh?

A few days ago I went to get the mail and was surprised to find this little box. Hmmm… What could it be?

 

When I came back inside I opened it to have a look. Hmmm… What is that?

 

Ummm… Someone sent me a wad of toilet paper… It feels like something is inside.

 

I unwrapped it and found a surprise!

 

Looks like a ball of cotton with roots!

 

OK… Just kidding around a little. I had been browsing around a little on Ebay looking at the cactus and succulents and found this gem. I know, I know that isn’t a good thing sometimes. There are a lot of nice plants on Ebay and so many you don’t find locally.

 

I ran across a listing for this Mammillaria plumosa also known as Feather Cactus. It was definitely something I have not seen at Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, or the local greenhouses. It reminds me of a very hairy Thimble Cactus (Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis).

 

Well, the seller did say he was sending a pot. This is just a teaser pot that attaches to other pots for form a stack of pots he has available. I am sure many people go ahead and buy more pots, but I think I will pass. I suppose it is a good idea and it would save space.

 

There are several plants in this cluster but it is impossible to tell how many with all the wool. VERY NEAT for sure. Who could pass up such an AWESOME find? A single specimen could take a couple of years to offset.

The name Feather Cactus comes from 40 or so interlacing radial spines that are kind of arranges like fathers. This furnishes protection against the hot desert sun. It has no central spines.

 

I can only imagine finding a plant like this in the desert in Mexico. It would look like a pile of snow, Maybe this species lives where it cooler and grew its own blanket.

Its status in its natural habit is listed as “near threatened” by the IUCN Red List. Llifle said it grows on limestone cliffs in sparse xerophytic shrubland and there is a continuing decline due to ongoing plant collecting. Apparently, the species is illegally collected for the ornamental trade. Locals collect the plant from the wild and sell them at local markets at Christmas time as they are used to decorate nativity scenes.

Well, it is getting late so I better warp up this post. Until next time, stay well, be safe. eat your vegetables, drink plenty of fluids and give your “other half” a big hug if you have one… Don’t forget to get dirty if you have a chance.

What Can I say? Lowe’s Had A Clearance

New cactus on September 21.

Hello folks! I hope this post finds you all well. A few days ago I went to Lowe’s to see if they still had the Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis I had left behind before. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it was no longer there BUT there were other cactus and succulents on clearance. 🙂 They were all labeled but the names of all but one were incorrect. Well, not actually incorrect I suppose, they are now synonyms of another species. I wonder how long it will take the industry to catch up with the name changes? Since all these cactus are from The Cactus Collection from Altman Plants, maybe when they run out of labels they will change the names. Kelly Griffin, one of the foremost Aloe breeders, works for Altman. Hopefully, he has some influence.

I have learned a lot about plants over the years, and the world of cactus has taught me a lot. What we think of as thorns on a cactus are called spines. Spines are actually leaves. The body of a cactus is a stem. Stems can be smooth or covered with “protuberances” which are usually called tubercles. The tubercles of Mammillaria species are “nipple-like” while other species are ribbed or fluted in shape. The size of the tubercles sometimes depends on how much water the cactus is storing. Up to 90% of the mass of a cactus may be water.

I could go on, but maybe I should make a post about cactus anatomy. 🙂

So, let me introduce you to my new companions in alphabetical order…

 

The Echinopsis huascha (Desert’s Blooming Jewel, Torch Cactus) was labeled Trichocereus grandiflorus Hybrid. When I checked with Plants of the World Online by Kew, it said the name had changed. I also checked with Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) and it listed several varieties and another species in the Echinopsis huascha Group. I found the Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora more closely matched my new plant because of the length of the spines. My plant’s spines are fairly short where the others are longer. The problem is, Britton & Rose, who gave the variety that name, apparently didn’t validly publish their description… Hmmm… I read a very long list of comments on a forum about this plant. Even though I want to call it Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora, I guess I better stick with Echinopsis huascha for now… You can call a plant any name you choose as long as the scientific name is validly published. There are “rules” that apply when someone names a plant…

 

As I was walking around the plant department I ran across this 8″ pot on clearance for $5.00.  As you can see, they are good sized plants. Unfortunately, the one in the center had died and was laying on the shelf… Funny I saw the pot had a label but didn’t read it until I was home and started writing their journal pages… The label on the pot says Trichocereus grandiflorus Hybrid… If I had looked when I was at Lowe’s I would have put the smaller pot back. 🙂

Then, of course, there were several Mammillaria I’ve never heard of before. Many Mammillaria species have a lot of similar characteristics but certain things separate them from the rest. Mammillaria is a VERY LARGE genus and most are quite easy to grow. Some have, and still do have, multiple scientific names because different people have discovered them in various locations throughout Mexico and some are, umm, variable. Reclassifying is a work in progress and now we are down to 162 accepted Mammillaria species (according to Plants of the World Online by Kew). The Plant List named 185 species in 2013 (plus 93 infraspecific names), a total of 519 synonyms, and only 448 unresolved species… I currently have 10 species which means I have 175 to go. 🙂 Well, I could have mentioned how many species there are in the entire Cactaceae family…

 

This lonesome fellow is labeled Mammillaria nejapensis. I thought, “GEEZ! What kind of a name is that?” I checked out the name on Plants of the World Online and now its correct and accepted name is Mammillaria karwinskiana (mam-mil-AR-ee-uh kar-winz-kee-AH-na). Kind of reminds me of when you have to type in the letters to prove you aren’t a robot. Sometimes I can’t make them out and ask for another set which is sometimes worse than the first set. Maybe that means I am a robot… Well, this is undoubtedly one of those cacti I will have to call by its common name when in a hurry which is Silver Arrows. Plants of the World Online lists 45 synonyms of this cactus! You can click on the plant’s name to find out more details… Oh, one more thing… This species is one of only a few that are also known as “Owl Eye Cactus” which are known for their dichotomous branching. That means the stem will divide.

 

This one was in a predicament when I found it… It was laying on the shelf out of its pot with very little soil on its roots (or in the pot). I thought it looked pretty neat, kind of “club-shaped”. I picked it up and it automatically knew it was going to a new home. What could I do? Although the label says it is a Mammillaria celsiana, Plants of the World Online and Llifle say that name is now a synonym of Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion). Not even Dave’s Garden has a pronunciation for that name! This fellow is very spiny but friendly. This one also divides dichotomously.

 

The forth cactus is labeled correctly and the easiest to pronounce. It is Mammillaria mystax (mam-mil-AR-ee-uh  MY-staks). Like many species, information says it is a solitary cactus. I could never figure out why it says they are solitary when they usually have plenty of company. If not accompanied by many other plants of other genera and species, it makes its own company. Solitary, in this case, means they are at first a single stem. Here again, this one divides dichotomously. That is weird because when I first started this post and was researching Mammillaria karwinskiana, I thought it was special because information says very few species do this. Now I see all three new Mammillaria species in my collection do the same thing. Hmmm… Information online lists a few species but these are not on the list which is because they are now synonyms of other species. 🙂 So, does that mean they are all Owl’s Eye Cactus? Apparently, Owl’s Eye is in reference to the way they look when they start to divide. Kind of like the way a persons head looks when they have two crowns instead of one. (I have an old friend who has two crowns…).

What makes Mammillaria mystax so special? Well, according to Llifle, this fellow grows long entangled spines around its crown. It says it does this “in the wild” but doesn’t say whether it does this in captivity (cultivation). Sometimes plant language makes one scratch their head. When we write about characteristics we learn a few things we can pass along but have to sometimes translate. Makes us sound brilliant when actually we also just learning. There is a lot to learn and I always learn something with each new plant I bring home.

 

This is a few Kalanchoe delagoensis (Chandelier Plant, Mother of Thousands) plantlets. Lowe’s had several very nice succulent combination planters but they were pretty expensive. One of the planters had a really nice Kalanchoe delagoensis in the center. The planter was $22.00 and I certainly didn’t want to pay that much when all I wanted was the Kalanchoe. It had quite a few plantlets that somehow made their way into my pocket. They are pretty small and didn’t have aerial roots yet so I am not sure if they will survive or not. Ummm… Was it stealing when I am actually rescuing the plantlets?

Well, I better close for now. It took a while to finish this post because there seems to be a lot going on now. I have several posts in line so I better get caught up.

So, Until next time… Stay well, be safe, enjoy the cooler temps because “you know what” is right around the corner. As always, GET DIRTY!

Whoops! NOT Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’

I haven’t really spoken to her that much because I am a little shy toward plants that confuse me. Something seemed very, very mysterious about her right from the beginning. I could sense she had a dirty little secret. Just her flirtatious glances and smiles, pointing to the upper part of her leaf and the apex… Oh, I look, because she is hard to ignore… She is trying to tell me something but she wants me to find out on my own. When she starts to grow a new leaf, she will say, “I wonder what this one will look like.” I just give her a speechless look and walk away. Even when I mow by her, she is always giving that mysterious look and sultry smile. When I walk out the door or walk by her, she always knows I will look at her. No matter how hard I try to resist, I can’t help myself. A while back, temptation really got the best of me. I ran my hand along one of her leaves to feel the seam along the edge because I noticed something else different about her. Hmmm…

Hello folks! I hope this post finds all of you doing very well. Remember in the spring when I posted about buying the Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ bulb from a seller on Ebay? I was somewhat hesitant but I bought one anyway. I admit, I kind of manipulated the guy into sending me the largest bulb (tuber) be had. I told him I was a blogger, and sent a link, and said I would mention him whether this bulb turned out to be an actual Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ or not. I questioned him because he was selling this cultivar as a bulb and not as a plant like everyone else. The other thing he said that got me to wondering was that he said he was getting them from a ‘supplier” and he said they were from the Wellspring strain… Ummm… I knew he was taking about Wellspring Gardens from Florida because I had bought A LOT of plants from him in 2009 and 2012. In fact, my first Colocasia gigantea and Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant came from him. Not to mention the ancestors of my Alocasia. This guy sells inexpensive starter plant from tissue culture, not bulbs… Anyway, the seller on Ebay said he sent the largest bulb and even lost money because it cost more to ship. Hmmmm….

Well, the plant came up about the same time the Colocasia esculenta did. As they all grew, I figured it would at least keep up with the Colocasia esculenta. It was from a bulb, after all, so I actually thought it would outgrow its neighbor. But, that didn’t happen. Colocasia, I mean Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ is the biggest… Ummm… Well, it was the biggest Colocasia, but since the name changed back to Leucocasia, I can’t say that now. Anyway, whatever you call it, it is supposed to be big.

Then its first variegated leaf emerged. That was very odd since I had never seen any variegated Leucocasia gigantea with variegated leaves. I searched the images on the internet and there was none. There are variegated cultivars of Colocasia, but not of the C. gigantea… When this happened, I tried post the photo to the Aroid group on Facebook. Well, the post wouldn’t post… After the second variegated leaf emerged I needed to try it again. Not only that, but the top part of the leaves looked different than the plant from last year. 

I had taken another photo of its leaves a few days ago, so Sunday afternoon I tried posting a couple more photos to the group. This time it worked… The first comment said, “It is a Xanthosoma.” The second said…  “Agree. X. sagittifolium. Not Leucocasia or Colocasia or Thai Giant. Cool that it has some variegation, though. I hope it does not outgrow it. Perhaps it will show up with more variegation in a stable form in some of the hundreds of pups with which it will fill your garden.” More would be great, but so far, no offsets…

Knowing this plant’s actual identity is great and now we can stop looking at each other weird. The correct common name is Arrowleaf Elephant Ear. It is also great to add another plant to my list. Oh, crap! Now I have to completely change the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ page and add one for Xanthosoma sagittifolium (zan-tho-SO-muh  sag-it-ee-FOH-lee-um).

Until next time, stay well and be positive! As always, GET DIRTY!