October 24-25 Wildflower ID…

Solidago sp. (Goldenrod) in the main hayfield on 10-24-21, #851-8.

Hello everyone! This is not exactly a normal time of the year to be identifying wildflowers on the farm here in west-central Missouri. Normally, we have had an “F” by now and most everything is dead or dying. Trees that turn bright colors, like many maple cultivars, are still green. The old maple in “the other yard” is changing color and the leaves are falling, but they would normally be orange. The two maples in front of the house and the south side are still green… Here it is, October 25, and still no “F” in the forecast… I am certainly not complaining. 🙂

I went to the south hayfield on October 24 to look at the Ladies’ Tresses again. I was also hoping I would stumble on the Elephant’s Foot again which didn’t happen (at least not in the south hayfield). The flowers of Ladies’ Tresses were beginning to fade, so what I was looking for apparently didn’t happen.  I am still leaning toward Spiranthes magnicamporum even though their lateral sepals didn’t spread outward.  I think the flowers the way they are and the stems with the sheathing bracts are good enough to confirm identity.

Arphia xanthoptera (Autumn Yellow-Winged Grasshopper) on 10-24-21, #851-6.

I walked to the back of the south hayfield to see if there was anything interesting and I spotted this brown grasshopper. Its scientific identity is Arphia xanthoptera and the common name is Autumn Yellow-Winged Grasshopper. I had never seen a grasshopper this color, but photos of the species show they come in many shades. I was surprised it actually let m hold it for a while. Usually, grasshoppers move around to the other side of a stem or leaf so you won’t see them. If you get too close they just fly off. This fellow didn’t seem to mind sitting on my hand to get a photo. After that, it left its calling card and flew off. As he flew, I could see his wings were red and yellow.

I am in an argument with Grammarly at the moment… I know we are both right and wrong at the same time. Grammarly thinks I shouldn’t capitalize the name on both sides of the hyphen, but that is the way I always do it. If a person’s name includes a hyphen, both names are capitalized. We are both wrong because some well-paid taxonomists think common names shouldn’t be capitalized at all. Other taxonomists are in disagreement. According to “some”, even family names shouldn’t be italicized and others yes… I capitalize common names and italicize family names and so do most of the sites I use.

After I finished in the south hayfield I climbed over the fence and entered the main hayfield. Not long after I was in the main hayfield, I stumbled on a strange plant I hadn’t seen before.

Acalypha gracilens (Slender Three-Seeded Mercury) on 10-24-21, #851-2.

It was quite windy so I had to take even more photos than normal. This Acalypha gracilens (Slender Three-Seeded Mercury) was sticking out like a sore thumb adorned in its fall colors. I had never seen it before, so I knew I had identified a new species on the farm. That is always exciting. I knew it was a member of the plant family Euphorbiaceae and I was correct. I only noticed one plant on the 24th but I needed a few more photos so I went back on the 25th. I couldn’t find the exact plant, but I managed to find two more. The second plant I found was only 4 1/4″ tall but the one from the 24th seemed a little larger. They can actually grow to 36″ tall…

Acalypha gracilens (Slender Three-Seeded Mercury) on 10-25-21, #852-3.

The Acalypha gracilens is a native of the southeastern and east part of the United States. It is quite common in some states and quite rare in others. It only has a few observations in the state of Missouri and none anywhere near here.

Plants grow in a variety of soil and light conditions which makes them very adaptable. In some situations, they can become weedy and grow differently from location to location making them somewhat tricky to identify.

The plants produce both male and female flowers on the same raceme. The female flowers are on the lower part while the male flowers are on the upper part. Flowers are wind pollinated and they become more “obvious” after pollination… Hmmm… We have had plenty of wind lately so they should be happy. This species produces fruit with 3 sections with one seed per section. There is a name for that but I can’t think of it at the moment. It is believed the seeds are dispersed by explosion or by ants. Of course, there were no seeds when I took the photos so I couldn’t give it a try. I guess that gives me a reason to go back to experiment. 🙂

I am working on the page for this plant…

<<<<+>>>>

Amanita bisporigera (Eastern North American Destroying Angel) on 10-24-21, #851-4.

While behind the back pond, no one could help but notice the Amanita bisporigera (Eastern North American Destroying Angel) along the creek on the other side of the fence. There were several on top of the bank, but the biggest was growing on the side.

Amanita bisporigera (Eastern North American Destroying Angel) on 10-24-21, #851-5.

This fungi is not one you would want to try in your favorite spaghetti sauce. If you eat it, you will start feeling ill in no time but then you will begin to feel better. The damage has already been done and you will die within 4-6 days…

<<<<+>>>>

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-24-21, #851-12.

By now you will know my confusion when it comes to several members of the Symphyotrichum genus. I found several of these plants growing on both sides of a drainage ditch behind the pond in the back pasture. Right off, I knew I hadn’t identified this one before. I was kind of excited but I soon realized I was going to be in a predicament… Here is a member of the aster family, likely a species of Symphyotrichum with leaves that resemble a species of Erigeron… Why in the heck are there single flowers growing on top of clusters of leaves like that?

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-24-21, #851-10.

It made absolutely no sense to me at all… Later, I went back to the house and went through the photos for the day, and uploaded the observations on iNaturalist. When I got to these photos, INaturalist suggested Symphyotrichum drummondii… I checked out that species on Missouri Plants and a few other sites linked on Wildflower Search and couldn’t see any resemblance as far as the leaves were concerned. I checked out the other suggestions the list and had the same opinion…  The leaves on those species were fairly long and narrow and some of the flowers weren’t right either.

Then I looked at the photos I took and noticed something…

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-24-21, #851-13.

What in the heck is that dead leaf dangling from the stem on this photo? Hmmm… By then it was too late to go to the back of the farm to check. I suppose I could have taken a flashlight.

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-25-21, #852-18.

Would you look at that!?!? It’s a long, narrow leaf! Sometimes I just get so excited to find a new species I don’t look at all the plants in the colony. You know, the bigger picture. Not only the leaves, but the basal flowers on this plant had changed color and they looked like a “certain” species. The disc. flowers change color with the species I am debating which gives it the common name…

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-25-21, #852-21.

What about the involucral bracts? Always check them out with members of the family Asteraceae. They can be appressed, recurved, in multiple rows (ETC.) depending on the species, subspecies, or varieties. In the particular species I am debating, they are appressed this in the above photo.

Symphyotrichum sp. ? on 10-25-21, #852-24.

There are very few of these longer leaves on any of the plants. Most of the lower leaves (basal) fall off on many species during flowering, while the upper leaves are much smaller. Missouri Plants lists 17 species of Symphyotrichum in the state of Missouri. However, they DO NOT have the species I am debating but they mention it as a “look-alike” of S. lanceolatum… I checked the map on the USDA Plants Database for Missouri and the species is supposedly found in many counties but Pettis (where my farm is) is not one of them. It shows they are present in all the counties next to Pettis, including Henry which is across the street… But, you know, they base their evidence mostly on dried, pressed specimens collected many years ago. I checked the BONAP map, which was updated in 2014, and it appears Pettis may be on the map. I say “may” because it is very hard to tell… The species has 60 synonyms and its current scientific name wasn’t accepted until 1982…

So, what species am I debating? Well, I looked at a lot of photos on iNaturalist and several other websites and I found one photo with leaves similar to the plants I had found. It was from an observation that was made by an iNaturalist member in 2013. Fortunately, it was from someone I had contacted before about another species who just happens to be one of the curators. She didn’t know what it was at the time, so she contacted another curator who was good with the genus. I sent her a message and she suggested I contact them as well. SO, I did. I told them I thought it was possibly Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (Calico Aster) and sent links to the observations. They agreed and explained a few things in a reply.

<<<<+>>>>

Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) on 10-25-21, #852-20.

Then there was this plant growing close to the fence behind the pond which I thought was likely Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (Panicled Aster). It is the one the debatable species is a “look-alike’ of and they both grow in the same type of wooded environment. BUT, when I contacted the iNaturalist member, they suggested it was Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) but it could also be an aberrant S. lateriflorum. I agreed with S. ontarionis and the observation became Research Grade.

Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) on 10-25-21, #852-22.

The flowers are similar at this stage and the disc flowers will change color as with “the other” species. It is possible they are the same species but I can’t determine that until 2022.

Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) on 10-25-21, #852-23.

There were still quite a few long, narrow leaves on this plant but the upper leaves are completely different than those on the Symphyotrichum lateriflorum along the ditch… That doesn’t mean they still can’t be the same species.

I apologize for not writing complete descriptions of this plant’s stems, leaves, and flowers. I have a lot of photos to add I took over the summer, several species pages to write, and updates to make. It is a wintertime project but I do get behind. There are several links below with great descriptions. I will write descriptions as soon as I have time.

HMMM… I forgot to take a photo of this plant’s involucral bracts… GEEZ!

I am using the species name Symphyotrichum lanceolatum for this plant because it was the first name suggested when I uploaded each photo individually on iNaturalist. I read about the species and looked at A LOT of photos before agreeing with that name then I submitted the observation as such. Still, even though there is a name attached, it is unlikely any members will agree. I may have to seek out someone who has posted observations of the “debatable” species that have become Research Grade to get their opinion.

Sometimes a species can grow weird leaves when under stress, like when a deer eats the top off of the plant or its leaves. That could be the case with the debatable plant… So, now I am in the waiting game…

UPDATE on 10-27-21: This species has been confirmed as Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster) by one of the curators of iNaturalist. The curator said it was either S. ontarionis or an aberrant S. lateriflorum. We went with S. ontarionis for the moment and the observation is now Research Grade as such. 🙂

<<<<+>>>>

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) on 10-25-21, #852-10.

Besides the species I photograph and get an ID of, there are hundreds (probably thousands) I overlook for one reason or another. I have been tromping around the area between the back pond and the fence since I was a kid. Climbing over dead trees, crawling under limbs, and pushing rose vines out of the way just to get through this area. It has always remained a natural habitat and always will be as long as I am here. There is quite a diversity of species all around this area and across the fence along the creek on the neighbor’s side (which used to be my grandparents). The Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) have been here a very long time.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) on 10-25-21, #852-11.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus is a member of the plant family Caprifoliaceae along with honeysuckle with arching branches. They thrive in a wide variety of conditions in the central and eastern half of North America from Canada down into Mexico. They are an arching, suckering shrub that produces bell-shaped flowers in the summer and fruit (called drupes) in the fall. I have not seen their flowers because I likely hadn’t been to the area during that time or just ignored them. Information says a wide variety of birds and small mammals eat the fruit and “browsers” use the plant for food…

<<<<+>>>>

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 10-25-21, #852-9.

In the same area I saw this leaf that looked like it was from a grapevine but it had these weird seeds growing from a petiole in the axial. Then I remembered it was likely Geum canadense (White Avens). Without flowers, it is sometimes difficult to remember what you find this time of the year. This is the same area where I first identified this species in May of 2018. I have since found them growing in other areas.

Geum canadense (White Avens) on 10-25-21, #852-8.

I was glad to be able to get a good photo of the dried achenes with hooked tips…

The next observation on the 25th made me very happy…

<<<<+>>>>

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) at 37″ tall on 10-25-21, #852-4.

I continued walking south toward the end of the area where I spotted a very suspicious looking plant… I looked it over very well and was almost getting goosebumps. OK, so it was a little chilly and the wind was blowing. I looked around and found a bigger patch with several plants… Could it actually be???

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-25-21, #852-5.

I checked the leaves, and sure enough, these plants are definitely Elephantopus carolinianus… WHAT A FIND! During the summer I don’t hardly ever get a chance to walk to the back of the farm because the grass in the hayfield gets so tall and thick it is hard to walk through. As a result, I missed these growing and flowering. Even when I did venture to the area I hadn’t walked through the spot I found them. Now that I know, there will be nothing to stop me next summer.

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-25-21, #852-6.

And we have seed… The bracts fall off rather than just the seed falling out.

I am very happy now to find a good-sized colony on my farm. This is a very interesting species for sure.

After that, I walked back to the house.

Maybe next year, maybe even this next week, I will take the mower and mow a path around the farm to areas I want to keep an eye on. That sounds like a good idea to me. 🙂

Until next time… Be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.

Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 3 PLUS A SURPRISE!

Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley)…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. October is here once again and some of the wildflowers aren’t looking their best. There are a lot of insects and butterflies feeding right now. I have taken a lot of photos the last few days and I am getting behind. 🙂 I now have 655 observations posted on iNaturalist covering 343 species.

This saga of the wild weeds (and wildflowers) and problem areas on the farm continues as I walked out of the main hayfield to the front pasture…

The above photo is the dreaded Torilis japonica (Japanese Hedge Parsley). There doesn’t seem to be as much of this stuff growing as there has been in the past. That is certainly fine with me…

 

Eleusine indica (Goosegrass)…

As you can imagine, there are A LOT of different species of grass growing on the farm. Heck, pretty much every yard around the world has a lot of species of grass. I don’t know about you, but the worse grass in my yard and pastures has got to be the Eleusine indica (Goosegrass). It is the grass with very tough blades you have to mow over multiple times and even then it still looks raggy. The second worse is the crabgrass which I don’t really want to talk about…

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper)…

There are still a few fairly good-sized colonies of Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) here and there but nothing like 2019 when I identified seven species. That was definitely the year for the Smartweeds.

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed)…

The Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) is also scattered among the grass in the front pasture, mainly around the two old mulberry trees. The other six species are scattered about here and there.

 

Hmmm…

I walked over to what used to be a smallish Multiflora Rose. Dad and I pulled up several rose bushes with the tractor a few years ago but left this one. It wasn’t that big and is it along the drainage area where water runs from the pond. When we pulled up the others it left a HUGE hole and I didn’t that that would be a good idea in this area. Three years ago a White Mulberry grew up in it, then last year I noticed a Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet) in the mix. To the left is a small colony of Solidago (Goldenrod) and the other cluster is either Eupatorium altissimum (Tall Thoroughwort) or Eupatorium serotinum (Late Boneset/Late Thoroughwort). Those two species look a lot alike and I didn’t take a closer look…

Both of those species have seen better days throughout the farm. There are still quite a few Solidago in bloom along the main hayfield. I am not really sure which species of Solidago are growing here but likely Solidago altissima and maybe also S. gigantea. The galls on a few plants are generally found on both of those species.

 

Xanthium strumarium (Rough Cocklebur)…

I am not really sure where I took this photo of the Xanthium strumarium (Rough Cocklebur). It is growing here and there and seems to be getting carried away again. I had been “working on it” for several years and seemed to pretty much have it whipped. Well, it seems to be coming back with reinforcements! I don’t have a page for the Cocklebur…

I walked across the ditch to get photos of what I saw as I started the walk. It was this mass of pink right behind the pond in the front pasture I had somehow just noticed. Probably because I hadn’t been paying attention, but that just can’t be. Just last week, or maybe the week before, I had taken photos of a few plants near the pond and I didn’t notice it then. I am saving the photos for the end of this post so I can end it well… 🙂

After I took some photos behind the pond, I walked toward the fence along the road in the front pasture to the biggest eyesore here…

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)…

The Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac) has spread into the pasture along the fence. This is a big problem…

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)…

I put the camera across the fence to get a photo of the mess between the fence and the street. In the first place, the fence is a little too close to the ditch, and the ditch is cut too steep to mow. Whoever did this had no concept of maintenance and it was done MANY years ago. The county used to come along several times during the summer but now we are lucky if they come once a year. At the end of the yard, there is a telephone pole between the fence and ditch making it impossible to get a mower along the fence. To mow the ditch, I would have to drive down the street to where the gate is and come up… Then, I would have to back the mower all the way back down to the gate… Since the ditch is cut like it is, and part of it has washed out a little, it is kind of unsafe. To fix this problem, the fence would have to be removed and moved back and the ditch smoothed out at a slope allowing it to be mowed safely. It is a real eyesore and I don’t like it one bit. I don’t like using chemicals, but this area needs cut and sprayed. Water from the ditch runs to the lake at the park… Perhaps I can talk to the county or the conservation department to find a solution.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining because I am very thankful to be here. I have a lot to be thankful for. It seems like I have been given an opportunity and I would like to do much better but I am not quite sure how to go about it…

Getting closer to the surprise…

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)…

One of the first plants to grow after the hay is cut is the Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed). Over the years, trying to tell the difference between Verononia baldwinii (Western or Baldwin’s Ironweed) and V. missurica has been somewhat difficult. I know the difference but couldn’t find enough of the latter to get a good confirmation to prove to myself that’s what it was. To make it worse, the two species hybridize… Earlier, all the ironweed were definitely Vernonia baldwinii.

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)…

Now, most of the ironweed are likely most definitely (GEEZ) Vernonia missurica. The heads have more florets (30+) and the involucral bracts are appressed. With Vernonia baldwinii, they have fewer florets and the bracts are recurved. I don’t have a page for the Vernonia missurica and the page for Vernonia baldwinii is still in draft mode. They have been driving me crazy so I wanted to make sure what I was talking about. Am I sure now? Well, not really. 🙂

OH, so here we go…

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)… On 9-28-21…

Don’t laugh like I am. This is probably the first pink flowers I have gotten excited about in my life. For one, the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) is the first species in the genus I have been able to properly identify and it become research grade on iNaturalist. The flowers are 1 1/2″ wide while the others are 1/2″ (more or less) and most commonly white or a pale lavender-pink. I am sure, almost, I have identified one species as Symphyotrichum pilosum (Hairy White Oldfield Aster) but I can’t get anyone on iNaturalist to stick their neck out and agree. I have submitted a few species that are difficult with the same results… Birds are easy and every species I have submitted are research grade.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) on 9-30-21, 1 1/2″ diameter…

The Missouri Plants website lists 16 species of Symphyotrichum in Missouri and most are pink. The USDA Plants Database lists 154 accepted species (including infraspecific names)in North America. Plants of the World Online lists 95 species worldwide including 12 hybrids but not including possible varieties. To find that out, I would have had to click on 95 pages. For grins, I checked out The Plant List which hasn’t been maintained since 2013. It lists 143 species (including infraspecific names), a whopping 1,116 synonyms, and only 37 species unplaced at the time. I would count the list on the Wildflower Research website, but I am sort of exhausted…

the underside and upper leaves of the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)…

Getting back to the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae… Information online says their flowers are purplish and rarely pink. Well, these are pink fading to white. It also says they supposedly grow to around 40″ or so tall. Hmmm… There is a problem. The huge clusters of pink flowers are on stems in a circle 10-12′ in diameter.  One could mistakenly “think” the stems are 40″ or so tall. BUT, in the center of the circle, there is a cluster of bent over stems (at the base of the plant). I picked one of the stems up and it was about a foot taller than me and I am 5′ 8ish… The stems had gotten so heavy they fell over and curved upward (like sweet corn). I took more photos on the 30th, including the bent-over stems at the base of the plant. Unfortunately, the photos of the base of the plant were blurry so I will have to try AGAIN. Possibly take a tape measure (and photograph the measurement) to prove my point. That happened before with another species of Symphyotrichum growing along the fence in the front pasture. The stem was growing in the fence and it couldn’t fall over and was close to 8′ tall. I do have photos but I have never been able to identify the species…

Danaus plexippus (Monarch Butterfly) on the New England Aster…

There were a lot of small butterflies and insects were very busy. There was a single Monarch enjoying itself as well.

Jocelyn asked me to take a 20-30 minute video of the farm for her YouTube channel so, on Friday, October 2, I decided I would give it a shot. I took a video of the New England Asters and the butterflies then walked up the ditch toward the main hayfield. There was a large colony of Missouri Ironweed at the corner and there were more Monarch feeding than I ever saw before. There were several colonies of ironweeds scattered about halfway across the front of the hayfield so I continued recording. Then I walked to the back pasture where another pond is. There is a HUGE colony of ironweeds where I found HUNDREDS of Monarch feeding and it was quite a sight. There were even several Hummingbird Moths which are impossible to photograph but they came out quite well on the videos. Well, I took 17 videos normally 3 minutes or so each. A couple were 7 minutes because I got a little carried away and a few are around a minute because I had to stop recording to take photos. She will just have to splice the videos together to get 20 minutes or so. I have to upload the videos on Skype, and if I make them too long it takes forever and sometimes it won’t work at all. If I had a better way to do it I would…

Well, I better close for now. I took quite a few photos this past week and I need to do some catching up. 🙂 We have FINALLY gotten some rain…

Until next time, take care, be safe, and always be thankful!

 

Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 2…

Hello again, everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and are doing well. This is round two about the problem areas and wild weeds on the farm. I am sure many of you have all encountered similar issues one way or another. Even if you have a house and a regular-sized yard, you still have to deal with weeds and trees sprouting up around your house, fences, and so on. They are more of a problem if you have a garden and flower beds. However, they are more manageable.

I had to add “ETC.” to the title because not everything on this post is a weed or a problem

Well, I have around 3 acres of yard to mow and it isn’t laid out in such a way that I could cut back. The areas that are grown-up now were like that when I moved back here in 2013 except one… I attempted and partially succeeded, clearing off the area north of the chicken house. The problem with clearing and cutting down trees is what to do with the brush… If you keep after them when they are small it is much less of an issue. Now, you may be thinking I should leave the trees and just work around them. That, my friends, depends on the trees, where they are, and how close they are together.

So, the above photo is the jungle that has grown behind the barn. When I moved here in 2013, I cut the trees away from the barn and out of the fences around the corral. Back then I didn’t know about Tordon so they grew back. I’m not sure how many times I cut the trees out of the fence, but as you can see, they are way beyond being easy. The trees in the mess are Chinese Elm, some kind of soft maple, and mostly White Mulberry. They all grow very fast and can be hard to manage. There are also Multiflora Rose, Smilax, and who knows what else in the mix. I get busy in the spring, then it gets hot, then rains. I can come up with several excuses… I am 60, but that one isn’t good enough!

What I would really love to have is a BIG commercial chipper hooked on a trailer to put all the debris. That would be AMAZING. Then I could use the mulch in the flower beds. I would only cut down the scrub trees and leave the good ones.

From this area, I was thinking about going to the pasture. But again, I was met head-on…

Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)

This is the other side of the Ambrosia trifida Giant Ragweed the last post was closed with. To the left is a gate, the chicken house, and part of the yard. The ragweed wasn’t near this bad last year and it won’t get like this next year. I promised that to myself. There are no cows here now to keep the weeds somewhat topped so they just grow. All but the three acres where the house and yard are leased out to a friend of mine. The guy I help feed cows when he needs me, do his planters and landscape maintenance, wildflower hunt in his woods and pasture, and whatever else he needs me to do. I still have dad’s old Allis-Chalmers 170 and the mower so I will likely get it going and get these weeds cut down. BUT, this is ragweed and mowing right now wouldn’t be a good idea. Several years ago I mowed the ragweed down along the pond bank about this time. Dad always told me he couldn’t go near the stuff but I hadn’t really had any issues… Until after I mowed it down. It didn’t bother me so much at the time, but every year it seems it gets a little worse. Dust and pollen especially if it is sort of windy. I am just going to get a few of those blue COVID masks and see if that helps. Even mowing the crabgrass in the yard right now with all the dust from it being so dry stops me up a little. The goal is to keep this area, and a few others not suitable for hay, mowed next year whether I use my old tractor or Kevin’s. My mower is like maybe 6′ wide, but Kevin’s is maybe 18′ or more with wings. His tractor is also MUCH bigger.

I wanted to walk to the pasture but I decided not to walk in the ragweed like I did before. I decided to walk all the way around the pond.

Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth)

Before I forget, also behind the barn is a LARGE colony of Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth). It is definitely a weed I love to dislike A LOT (hate is what I would prefer to say). They have been an issue in this area since I was a kid and I watched my grandpa work them over several times. The soil in this area is very loose because it is where dad and I fed the cows hay. Consequently, I used the composted manure in the garden and flower beds so I have this creature coming up in those areas as well. It is a real pain in more ways than one because of its very thorny stems. They produce A LOT of seeds that are edible. Well, so are its leaves but I don’t particularly want any.

The pond is very low now for several reasons. One is the lack of rain, the other is that the cows made a ditch in the bank where they walked to the pond. During periods of heavy rain, the water washed it out even more.

 

Phytolacca americana (American Pokeweed)…

I walked around to the backside of the pond and across the ditch to an area that is very difficult to maintain. When the cows were still here, the Arctium minus (Lessor Burdock) held this territory. The cows liked laying on the pond bank under an old Chinese Elm and Red Mulberry. Last spring the old elm fell over during a storm which changed the environment somewhat… Now there are several fairly large Phytolacca americana (American Pokeweed) growing here. The largest of these are growing in the south hayfield. I always thought Pokeweed was a neat plant, so I let a few grow around the fence by the chicken house and one (or two) around the garden. But like I said, even wildflowers can become weeds. Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, and Cardinals supposedly eat the berries but there aren’t enough of them anymore. Where are all the birds anyway?!?! The plants are deadly to pets, humans, and livestock… GEEZ! Well, I guess enough is enough, or too many is not a good thing. I suppose if there aren’t that many birds around here that feed on the berries there is no point in having so many Pokeweed.

 

Hmmm… Blackberries…

GEEZ! There used to be an electric fence where these jfhgssk blackberry vines are. There was just a small group that I mowed off now and then. There may also be a Multiflora Rose in the mess that I kept cut down (anyway, it was somewhere along the fence). How this mess of vines got so big I have no clue… I don’t venture out into the hayfield that much during the summer because the grass grows so thick and tall. It is very exhausting to walk through. Once the hay was cut, I went out and saw several problem areas that weren’t there before.

I turned to the left (north) and walked around the other side of the pond…

 

Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed)…

When I moved back here, and for a few years after, the Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed) and Cirsium vulgare (Bull Thistle) covered the pond bank on the east side. I worked several summers digging the thistles and mowing the Jimson Weed and am glad to say neither one are a problem now. There are still a few here and there but nothing like there was. Thank goodness! In 2019 there was a weed that took over that grew much taller than me. I had never seen them get that tall or in such an abundance. The funny thing is, I didn’t take any photos and I can’t even remember the name. In the few years I have been identifying wildflowers, I don’t think I have taken any of that species photos for ID. HMMM. There never was that much of it but it is very common. Dad always called it Dock or something… Well, I will just have to try to find some…

 

Chenopodium album (Lamb’s Quarters)…

OH, now I remember! Lamb’s Quarters! Chenopodium album! I don’t have a page for this species and I am not sure why. They don’t usually get as big as they were, but the pond bank was another area where hay was fed over the winter.  Lots of “the GOOD STUFF” made this area very fertile but there is a problem with the soil in this area… There are a lot of plants that refuse to grow here perhaps because of the chemicals left in the soil from the Jimson Weed. I have used it in the garden and it seemed fine. The last time I was scooping the stuff up, I noticed the surface was very fine and weird (it looked kind of like A LOT of bug poop). I put some in a flower bed and water wouldn’t even soak up.

Walking to the main hayfield, I walked to the gate…

Vitis sp. and Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose)…

This post is where the electric fence hooked up to the gate that went around the hayfield. This small Multiflora Rose and grapevine have been a part of this post for YEARS. I had to give them a good trimming many times!

I walked on up into the pasture because you have to see this…

DOUBLE HMMM!!!

So, when Kevin’s nephew was finished baling the hay and the bales were moved, he asked me if I would check for armyworm damage where the bales had been sitting. I had noticed there were several patches of dead grass but I thought it was from it being cut and lack of rain. He said there were a lot of hayfields in the area that had been affected by armyworms. I couldn’t really tell because I didn’t know what to look for. What I found online wasn’t about armyworms affecting hayfields. Always when hay isn’t moved pretty quick, the grass will die where the bales are sitting. I always tried to move the hay pretty quick, and last year it was moved as soon s it was baled. This year he had a couple of other guys move it and it took them a few weeks. All I noticed under the bales were A LOT of crickets. At the time, there didn’t seem to be that much dead grass, but after a couple of weeks more, I can see it is pretty bad. There is grass sprouting, but it is very slow. Kevin will be drilling new seed when the time is right.

 

Solanum carolinense (Horse Nettle)…

Most of what is growing in the dead zones are Solanum carolinense (Horsenettle), Veronica missurica (Missouri Ironweed), Cyperus stringosus (Strae-Colored Flatsedge), and a few other miscellaneous clumps of grass. Mostly the Horsenettle. Well, it grows all over the farm. As soon as the hayfields are cut, the first plants to grow are milkweeds, ironweed, and horsenettle. They want to grow like mad so they can bloom like their life depends on it.

As I was working on this post, I realized I needed additional photos. I needed to confirm the Vernonia missurica, which will be on the next post because the photos I took were in a different area. Then I got this idea I needed to have a look at them in the main hayfield to make sure they were the same species. As I walked up the hayfield, I noticed…

There was a couple of White-Tailed Deer grazing just over the top of the hill. Trust me, I zoomed in quite a bit because it would have been impossible to get this close. I was very surprised they didn’t know I was there. I took several photos as the doe on the right walked closer to the other one.

 

Then she spotted me. In a second, the one on the left looked at me and in a flash, they turned and ran. In the early evening, almost every day, a doe and her two fawns walk through the back yard and either go through the fence or walk through the gate by the barn. They go to the pond to have a drink then walk up to the hayfield to graze. I have been very close to them when they are in the yard but I have not had my camera. When they see me, they just stand and look at me motionless before moving on. The last time they didn’t bother to get in a hurry and just slowly walked to the gate. Maybe they are getting used to me.

When I added the observation on iNaturalist as Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer), one member agreed making it research grade. Another member came along and suggested Odocoileus virginianus subsp. macrourus (Kansas White-tailed Deer). I didn’t agree yet because I’m not sure. According to Wikipedia, there are 26 subspecies, 17 in North America and 9 down into South America. Of course, there are disagreements about that and the Wikipedia article may be somewhat out-of-date. 

While I was at it and on the hill, I decided to take a few more shots… You know how one leads to another, then another. 🙂

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)…

The Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) grew very fast after the hay was cut They won’t be able to flower again before the “you know what” but they give it their best shot.

 

Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)…

The Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed/Prairie Milkweed) on the other hand, grew, flowered, and already has fruit before I knew it.

I think I will close this post and make the next one about as I leave the main hayfield and go to the front pasture…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 1…

Hedera helix (English Ivy) on the steps of the old foundation…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Friday was very windy as the 90° F temperatures attempt to blow in for a few days. To be honest, when those cool temps start coming, I wouldn’t mind 90° 12 months a year. Maybe in the 80’s.

I was working on the plant family Araliaceae so I went outside to get a photo of the English Ivy growing in and around the old foundation. Then I noticed something growing that hadn’t been there before. The next thing I knew I was taking more photos and even found a new wildflower in the foundation. That triggered an idea for this post. There are areas and plants that need some attention. Has anyone ever asked you, “Is it a wildflower or a weed?” Well, there are plenty of both here and sometimes what was once a wildflower becomes a weed. The word invasive comes to mind… Since I moved back here in 2013 I have noticed how some species are invasive one year and the next they have all but disappeared.

The above photo is the English Ivy (Hedera helix) that has engulfed the basement steps on what used to be my grandparent’s old home. I lived in this house for six years in the early 1980’s and I don’t remember it being here. Now that there is just a foundation, it has run rampant on one wall and a few other areas. It is hard to believe the nine varieties of ivy I grew in pots in Mississippi were the same species… Battling this stuff can get rather ridiculous since it wants to get into the beds next to the foundation.

Mixed in with ivy on what used to be the back porch was a vine I hadn’t noticed before. Then I walked around to the northwest corner, looked into the basement, and found a good-sized mess of it. I first thought it was Celastrus scandens (American Bittersweet) like what started growing in the Multiflora Rose in the front pasture. With a closer look, I discovered is was something different…

Ampelopsis cordata (Heart Leaf Peppervine)

I took photos and uploaded them on iNaturalist and found out it is “likely” Ampelopsis cordata, the Heart Leaf Peppervine… I say “likely” because no one has had time to approve the observation. Once it gets approved the photos and observation will become research grade.

Ampelopsis cordata (Heart Leaf Peppervine)

It has likely been there for a while by the looks of it, I just haven’t noticed. Some invasive species grow very fast, though. Information says it is native to the southeastern U.S., but it has been observed in half of the United States and parts of Mexico. It is considered an invasive species outside its native range… YIKES!

 

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper)

I have been battling the Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) in the foundation for a long time. I have it almost whipped, or so I like to think. It has also tried growing on the barn and doesn’t like to give up. It is growing on a lot of the trees north of the chicken house and in the fencerows by the hayfield.

Euphorbia dentata (Toothed Spurge/Green Poinsettia)

Then I found this plant in the basement that is “likely” Euphorbia dentata whose common name is Toothed Spurge and Green Poinsettia.

Euphorbia dentata (Toothed Spurge/Green Poinsettia)

I didn’t want to crawl down into the old basement to get good close-ups so I just zoomed in… It is said to be highly variable depending on its growing conditions (prefers damp areas). This is an annual species and it makes me wonder how it got in the basement in the first place. For sure, it is likely damp down there. 🙂

 

Guess…

I know, I know… A lot of people love the Crape Myrtle but I prefer calling it Crap Mrytle. There were 3-4 growing along the house in the 1980’s and I thought they died one spring. I planted a row of Red Barberry to replace them but the next spring the Crape Myrtle started coming back up. Dad didn’t like the Red Barberry because of its thorns, but I guess he liked the Crape Myrtle. There is only one left in this spot and it has likely been here since 1958 or so. Dad even put two on the south side of their house. GEEZ!!! I will admit, the HUGE Crape Myrtle “trees” growing at the mansion in Mississippi were OK and the one growing at a house across the creek was AWESOME with its beautiful mottled trunk. It was HUGE and AWESOME! I can’t believe I said that! The first time I saw Crape Myrtle trees was when I was living in California for a few months in 2008. I was amazed! They only grow as shrubs here and come up from the ground each spring. The squirrels love their seed pods and nearly drove me insane at the mansion. I had pots hanging in the trees and the squirrels would jump in them to get the seeds. Needless to say, I had to relocate the pots…

Anyway, I will move on from that…

Then, I looked toward the chicken house to my own mistake…

Equisetum hyemale (Horsetail)…

OK, so I should have known better. Actually, I wasn’t 100% sure what would happen, maybe 75%. Anyway, let’s go back in time for a minute so I can explain myself… I was living at the mansion in Leland, Mississippi and I got acquainted with a lady who had an impressive yard. It was so impressive it was in a magazine. I will not mention her name because I am sure she wouldn’t want to be known for this plant. Anyway, when I was at her house for the first time, she had been battling the Equisetum in her backyard and told me how bad it was. She gave me the start of several perennials, one of which I still have. However, she did not give me the start of my Equisetum. Instead, she warned me and didn’t want it at the mansion. Driving around Leland, I found this yard with  HUGE Agave protoamericana and Equisetum growing along the side of her house, in the front yard by the Agave, and even in the ditch (which she kept mowed off). Well, I stopped and got acquainted with the lady and she told me I could dig up some Horsetail… SO, I did. I was very careful with it and kept them in pots. That was in 2010… The next year I put all the plants in the same pot and they took off. I brought the pot with me when I moved back to the farm in 2013 but I still kept them in the pot (which I kept enlarging). I even brought it inside for the winter. After a couple more years I told dad I was thinking about putting it in front of the chicken house. Nothing seemed to grow well there and the moles were bad in that spot. I told him if I did, they might spread like crazy. He said it was OK and we could just keep them mowed off. It seemed to be a slow process at first, but it took over the area in front of the chicken house on the north side. It started growing in the grass, somehow got across (or under) the concrete slab in front of the door t the other side. The Equisetum is no longer just in front of the chicken house…

Equisetum hyemale (Horsetail)…

It started coming up in the grass where I mow then spread into the area that used to be the peach orchard (a LONG TIME AGO). I have ideas for this area and it doesn’t include the Equisetum…

I seriously do like Equisetum hyemale, but I learned my lesson. I will not give any of this to anyone else even though I could probably take 100 pots or more to the greenhouse. It is an amazing species that has been around since prehistoric times and I can see why.

I walked around the south side of the chicken house to get a photo of a complete nightmare…

Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)…

The area behind the chicken house is impossible to mow because the roots from the Chinese Elms are sticking up above the ground. The Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed) have taken over. Until a few years ago, the pollen from ragweed didn’t bother me that much. Last fall and this fall I think it has gotten to me a little more. This stuff likes to take over areas it knows I can’t mow.

I walked around the barn into the pasture which will be part 2… I think I will venture farther and take more photos for a few more posts. That way my posts won’t be so long and take so long to get ready.

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Stay well and always be thankful!