Early April Wildflower Update

Barbarea vulgaris (Yellow Rocket, Etc.)

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Even though COVID-19 is keeping us more at home the early wildflowers are keeping the early pollinators busy. I didn’t start getting more into wildflower ID until last summer, so I am getting an early start this year.

The Barbarea vulgaris in the above photo isn’t a new one in more ways than one. They grow in abundance and provide a great bright yellow color. It goes by many common names including Yellow Rocket, St. Barbara’s Herb, Herb Barbara, Wintercress, Bittercress, Rocketcress, Yellow Rocketcress, Wound Rocket, Creasy, Creecy, Creesy, Cressy Greens, Upland Cress and probably others. With that many you know there have to be more. It was named and described by William Townsend Aiton in the second edition of Hortus Kewensis in 1812. Plants of the World Online lists 27 accepted species in the Barbara genus and is a member of the Brassicaceae Family (Mustard Family) which includes 345 genera.

Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s Purse)

I often wondered what those plants are that are growing in ABUNDANCE along the edge of the driveway in the gravel. Even though they keep getting mowed off and only grow a few inches tall they flower up a storm for several months. Well, I found a larger plant growing next to a parked car that didn’t get mowed off so I took photos and was able to identify these wildflowers as Capsella bursa-pastoris. Its common name is Shepherd’s Purse… The above photo was taken of a larger colony behind the barn…

 

Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s Purse) on 4-4-20, #683-5.

It gets its name from the triangle-shaped fruits that resembled a shepherd’s purse…

Analysis has concluded that Capsella bursa-pastoris had a hybrid origin within the past 100,000-300,000 years. It has evolved from being a diploid, self-incompatible species to being a polypoid, self-compatible species. This has allowed into become one of the most widely distributed species on the planet. Scientists refer to this plant as a “protocarnivore” because it has been found that its seeds attract and kill nematodes. Seeds contain mucilage that traps nematodes.

The species was named and described as such by Friedrich Kasimir Medikus in Pflanzen-Gattungen in 1792.

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Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-Ear Chickweed)

I stumbled across this interesting species while I was taking photos of one of the Buttercups (that isn’t flowering yet). That will be a story for another time. Anyway… There are several small colonies of this plant growing in an area next to the pond intermingling with other species. The stems grow from a cluster of small basal leaves that grow very close to the ground that you wouldn’t notice unless you take a look. After taking a multitude of photos (GEEZ) I identified this species as Cerastium glomeratum commonly known as Sticky Mouse-Ear Chickweed, Clammy Chickweed, Mouse-Ear Chickweed, Sticky Chickweed, Glomerate Mouse-Eared Chickweed… One thing for sure it is some kind of chickweed.  🙂

The species was named and described as such by Jean Louis Thuillier in Flora des Environs de Paris in 1799. It is a member of the same family as Stellaria media (Common Chickweed), Caryophyllaceae.

 

Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-Ear Chickweed)

The leaves and stems are VERY hairy which is probably why it is called “sticky”. Hmmm… I didn’t notice and “stickiness” when I was handling this plant.

I do not have a page for this plant yet…

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Galium aparine (Cleavers)

You may be thinking I slipped a cog to even take a photo of this plant let alone wanting to get an ID. What is even weirder is I was wondering what happened to it because I didn’t remember seeing it since I was a kid. I think that is because I must have blotted it from my memory. So, when I saw a small clump growing behind the house I was kind of excited… Now I see growing in a multitude of places where it has always been. Of course, this is Gallium aparine commonly known as… Cleavers, Catchweed, Bedstraw, Catchweed Bedstraw, Goose Grass, Sticky Willy, Sticky Weed, Sticky Bob, Stickybud, Stickyback, Robin-Run-The-Hedge, Sticky Willow, Stickyjack, Stickeljack, Grip Grass, Sticky Grass, Bobby Buttons, Velcro Plant. Yeah, that one…

Joking aside, this plant has found several uses in the past. Shepherds used to kind of wad it up and use it to strain milk… Dried plants were used to stuff mattresses… It is also edible but you have to cook it first to get rid of the tiny sticky hairs. It also has medicinal value.

This is one of many species we just deal with when we have gardens and flower beds to clean out and maintain. What do you call this plant? I am sure you have a preferred name for it.

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Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy, ETC.) from a colony growing around a maple tree.

AH HA! Isn’t it strange how we miss some of the coolest things because they are so small? I had posted photos from 2018 of this plant on iNaturalist along with Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit) because I hadn’t paid attention to it being another species. Well, I was a wildflower newbie at the time. A member pointed out the photo was of Glechoma hederacea so I took another look. Sure enough, he was right.

 

Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy, ETC.)

So, this spring I looked for it to flower but I couldn’t find it. The early leaves of Lamium amplexicaule and Lamium purpureum and this species are very similar until they start flowering. Then, on April 4 when I was mowing “the other front yard” in front of the old foundation I saw the colony growing around a maple tree were flowering. There is a HUGE patch between the trees but I had never seen them flower before. The above photo was taken of a smaller colony growing among the Lamium purpureum in a sunnier spot. Common names include Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, Gill-Over-The-Ground, Alehoof, Turnhoof, Catsfoot, Field Balm, Run-Away-Robin… The species was named and described as such by our old friend Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

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Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit)

The Lamium amplexicaule is among the first wildflowers to start blooming in the spring along with Veronica persica (or V. polita). It seems the size of the colonies of the Henbit are getting smaller.

 

Lamium purpureum (Deadnettle)

While the colonies of Henbit are getting smaller, the Lamium purpureum (Deadnettle, ETC.) is becoming more abundant. This is also happening in the fields. Many people think the Deadnettle is Henbit but their leaves on the upper part of their stems are much different.

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Ranunculus abortivus (Small-Flowered Buttercup, Etc.)

One of several Buttercup species here, the Ranunculus abortivus is now flowering. Several other species in the genus haven’t started flowering yet so ID is still somewhat difficult. Common names f this plant include Small-Flowered Buttercup, Littleleaf Buttercup, Kidneyleaf Crowfoot, Kidneyleaf Buttercup, Small-Flowered Crowfoot. The basal leaves are similar to other species and not only in this genus.

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Stellaria media (Common Chickweed)

Of course, the Stellaria media (Common Chickweed) is in full swing right now and flowering up a storm. I have a lot of photos and a big write-up planned but the page isn’t ready yet. Hmmm…

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Veronica peregrina (Purslane Speedwell)

While I haven’t wondered what the carpet of small plants growing behind the barn are, I decided to take a few photos and give them some recognition. After all, they are an early wildflower that feeds our early pollinators. This species is Veronica peregrina commonly known as Purslane Speedwell

 

Veronica peregrina (Purslane Speedwell)

The flowers are so tiny I used two magnifying glasses plus zooming as close as I could with the camera. It takes practice, patience, no wind, and the right light… Did I mention patience? I don’t have a page for this species yet…

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Viola sororia (Common Blue Violet)

Last but certainly not least is the Viola sororia, the Common Blue Violet. There are A LOT of these plants growing in many places in the yard and in the ditch along the street. Since they are on the bottom of the wildflower list I have no page for them either…

I hoped to have the wildflower pages finished by spring but that didn’t happen. I still have a long way to go but it is a continual work in progress. I am not going anywhere and life goes on. 🙂

I did get a new motor and new tires for the tiller so there will be a garden this year.:) Plus, the new Gator blades for the riding mower are working GREAT. I also have one of the push mowers running so I am very happy. Maybe I can keep up with the yard better this summer than last year. The old riding mower still needs a new tire but maybe it can sit this summer out. Hopefully, there will be no issues with the bigger mower.

Well, I guess I have finished now. Until next time, stay well, be safe, stay positive and GET DIRTY! I hope you are all managing with the restrictions in place. I am doing fine so far.

 

15 comments on “Early April Wildflower Update

  1. katechiconi says:

    My mother used to make cleavers ‘tea’ for skin irritations like nettle rash or dermatitis, and an old neighbour used to drink it for ‘the water’ – he had fluid retention in his legs. Glad to see you’re still able to get out and about. I’m waiting for the cooler weather in a few weeks before I get out there and try and whip the back and front yard into shape!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kello Kate! I always like to find out that plants that are annoying have some good uses like Cleavers. Cooler weather is coming your way and we are approaching summer. So, I guess you will be getting ready for fall clean-up. Take care and stay well. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Barbarella?! and she’s vulgar?! Oh my!
    I don’t have another name for henbit because I only recently learned the name. I had never seen it in the Santa Clara Valley, or had just ignored it. It is more common over here. I am still ignoring it so far though. I should try cleavers as a vegetable though. I know other people like them, but they annoy me too much to think that they could be any good. Shepherd’s purse is sort of good, but I used it more in conjunction with more substantial greens, rather than alone. It has a nice flavor, but not in abundance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Tony! I checked to see if I misspelled Barbarea, which I did. I thought maybe I spelled it Barbarella but instead I found Barbera (which I fixed). I am not sure if she is vulgar or not but as long as I just take photos I think we will continue to have a good relationship. The Henbit is a neat little plant in the spring growing around foundations, trees, and fencerows. In good lawns it can be a problem because it can lead to bare spots. It will fizzle out in the coming heat. I tend not to eat a lot of wild plants but a few are tempting. Cleavers is not one I would want to try, though. A friend of mine eats Shepherd’s Purse but I haven’t tried that one yet either. I sent your cuttings on Tuesday and they arrived at your post office this morning. I sent you an email Tuesday with the tracking number. 🙂 I hope you are well and take care! Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonytomeo says:

        OH MY! THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH! I will go get them in the morning, and I will take VERY good care of them! This is one of those species that I have been wanting to grow since I did not get cuttings while in Oklahoma at the end of 2012. I know I could have gotten garden varieties online, but it would not have been the same as what grows wild. This will be SOOOOOO RAD!

        Liked by 1 person

      • tonytomeo says:

        Goodness, anyway, . . . Cleavers do not seem like something that would be very good. I don’t know what it is about them, but they just are not appetizing. They seem sort of watery, like miners’ lettuce. Miners’ lettuce certainly is not bad, but there is not much to it. I think that cleavers would be about as impressive, but with a weird texture. I have only eaten them cooked, and they had the texture of that chopped grass that needs to be scraped from the underside of the lawnmower a week after mowing.
        Shepherd’s purse is much better, but it is more like a component to a salad, rather than something that is eaten alone, sort of like nasturtium.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think all of these except the shepherds purse is growing in my garden. Henbit is not getting smaller here. There are fields of it. It seems to like many of the fields where they rotate corn and soybean crops. It even pops up in our zoysia grass. A tough plant for looking so pinkish.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Lisa! It is interesting how so many species are found in just about every country. Many fields here are covered with either Henbit, Deadnettle or both. I always thought it was Henbit, but in a field close to a friend’s house on a backroad, I can clearly see it is Deadnettle there. You can’t tell them apart from a distance and they like the same conditions. They are definitely a tough spring plant. Take care and be safe! Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  4. Truly, Creeping Charlie is my least favorite weed. I just spent a day combing through the beds pulling out the early leaves and stolons wherever I could.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Jason! Creeping Charlie would definitely be a pain if it is growing in your flower beds. Fortunately, it is growing here in areas where it is OK. It is really flowering up a storm unlike ever before. Thanks for the comment and take care!

      Liked by 2 people

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