Perplexing Persicaria

Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed) on the left and Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) on the right. This photo was taken near the pond at the back of the farm on 9-7-19. Persicaria punctata has “dots” on the flowers and Persicaria longiseta has cilia (hairs) on their flowers.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. I think it has been three months since I decided to photograph and ID the Persicaria species here and what a journey it has been. I finished just in time because it is supposed to “F” tomorrow night. I hate it when that happens.

I have rewritten the opening I don’t know how many times and this post is very long (I am laughing). I finished and now It seems I am starting back at the top again. I wrote a page for each species as I went along so I could provide links to their pages. There you will see more photos and more ID information if you are interested.

 

Persicaria species from left to right: Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper), Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb), Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb), Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed), Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed), Persicaria virginiana (Jumpseed), and Persicaria sagittata (Heartleaf Tearthumb) also along the bottom. Photo taken on 9-22-19, #635-3.

Most Persicaria species on the farm have many things in common, so the terminology basically applies to all seven species here (more or less). Their leaves are basically the same except for Persicaria sagittata and Persicaria virginiana. They all have ocrea at the leaf nodes. Their flowers are on racemes which would typically be called an inflorescence on many other species. They all have pedicellate flowers which is why their inflorescence is called a raceme. The flowers all produce a single achene (indehiscent fruit=not splitting open to release the seed when ripe). The seed is fairly large in comparison to the size of the flower and they form very early and remain in the flower. It is almost as if the whole fower is part of the achene. It is different with P. virginiana whose tepals seem to dry and peel off like the skin of an onion. Persicaria flowers have no petals. They commonly self-fertilize, and some are even cleistogamous (self-fertilization that occurs inside a permanently closed flower). I tried to translate most of the botanical terminology and descriptions, but just in case you can have a look at the glossary of terms from the Missouri Plants website by clicking HERE. Wikipedia has one you can view HERE.

 

Distribution map of Persicaria species Worldwide from Plants of the World Online by Kew. Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/ Retrieved on September 22, 2019.

Plants of the World Online by Kew “currently” lists 129 accepted species of Persicaria worldwide. That doesn’t include subspecies, varieties, or forms (infraspecific names). Those numbers could change at any time. Version 1.1 of The Plant List (2013) named a total of only 71 accepted species (including infraspecific names), 442 synonyms, and 163 names that hadn’t been assessed at the time. The genus Persicaria was first named and described by Phillip Miller in the fourth edition of Gardener’s Dictionary in 1754 but I didn’t notice any species he reclassified (he just assigned a new genus). And so it was. Many species were first in the Polygonum genus and have been in other genera along the way. The green in the map above represents locations where species are native and the purple where they have been introduced. Ummm… That only includes the Falkland Is., Fiji, Hawaii, and Tonga.

The Missouri Plants website lists ID information for 11 species of Persicaria and Wildflowersearch.org has 14. I have identified seven species here on the farm. I previously thought there were eight. 🙂 I had taken a few photos of them in 2013 but really didn’t pay a lot of attention to them until this year. I guess the cows kept them in check so I really didn’t notice how many species there were right under my nose. Once the hay was baled and I mowed the “weeds” in the area behind the chicken house, behind the barn, and south of the barn, I noticed the Smartweeds had gone bonkers. They like growing in areas they won’t be disturbed, but even if mowed they bounce right back.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb), Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed), and Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) all in one spot along the fence next to the barn on 9-15-19.

I decided I would identify the Persicaria species and started taking LOTS of photos of each colony mainly from August 3. Heck, now it is October 11! I don’t even remember when I started this post because I kept adding to it!

 

Photo of “punctate glandular dots” on the perianth of Persicaria punctata.

Most species were fairly easy to identify because of flower color and other features revolving around their flowers. The worse was trying to figure out Persicaria hydropiper and P. punctata. They are pretty much the same but one feature sets them apart from ALL other Persicaria species. Their flowers have “punctate glandular dots” which you have to use a 10x magnifying glass to see. I thought my magnifying glass must not be a 10x because all I see are weird lumps. Well, I was looking for spots or specks. Their leaves and stems are also supposed to have these weird dots but I cannot see them. P. punctata is supposed to have longer leaves than P. hydropiper, but I found that is not always the case. The largest colony of P. punctata has small leaves with the exception of only a few plants with a few larger leaves. There were a few other characteristics that are supposed to set them apart, but I found those were not always true either. In the end, only ONE thing perfectly sets them apart. The seed. P. hydropiper has dull black to brown seeds and all other species here have shiny black seeds. Taking close-up photos of tiny seeds requires A LOT of patience. Even with a magnifying glass in front of the lens most of the photos I took were not perfect. Persicaria seeds are about the size of the head of a pin. Their seeds seem to form even while still in flower, which was weird in itself. Then again, how can you tell when most species are “flowering”. Most of them seem to be continually in bud and the flowers never seem to open except for P. pensylvanica. A few times I did get photos of others but that was very rare and difficult.

(UPDATE! I wrote the above paragraph before exploring P. virginiana… They have black or brownish seeds and can be either dull or shiny).

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb), Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed), and Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) on 9-15-19.

Out of seven species present, five are native to the U.S. Three of those seven are hybrids. Non-native species were likely the result of crop and seed contaminants from their native country.

 

Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri pages 726-727 showing plate #499.

I rented volumes 1, 2, and 3 of Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri by George Yatshievych. Volume 3 has information about the Persicaria genus which covers 20 pages and 18 species. Much of the information is basically the same as information online, but this is where I figured out the species I thought was Persicaria setacea was regretfully more Persicaria longiseta. There is very little information online about P. setacea, and nothing when it comes to ID. Photos online looked exactly like the “wanted to be” Persicaria setacea along the pond in the back of the farm. Then when I checked the photos submitted on iNaturalist, I thought something was really weird. I thought, “Why in the heck do some of their photos show hairs sticking out horizontally from the ocrea?” So, although I only needed volume 3 of Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri, I decided to have them all sent from the main branch to the local branch. You can’t really tell that well, but P. setacea is the one in the lower left-hand corner of the page with the line drawings. This volume alone has 1,382 pages not including MANY pages in the front.

Well, I better begin the actual post now instead of just rambling on and on. I am much more talkative when I am writing than in person, and right now I have the keyboard at my fingertips.

#1-Persicaria hydropiper-Water Pepper

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 9-4-19, #623-24.

This small colony of Smartweed in the pasture behind the lagoon was VERY perplexing for a while. It has red stems while the other clumps near it have green stems or near-red. Also, its racemes of flowers were very pendulous while the others were more erect and only drooping at the top. Even the larger colony a few feet away in the rock pile had green stems with racemes that go every which direction. As it turned out, all those characteristics are true for Persicaria hydropiper, the Water Pepper. I checked seed in this entire area, both from plants with red stems and green stems, and their seeds were all dull (not shiny) and black to brownish. The above photo was taken on September 4 and the racemes of this colony weren’t that long yet because it had been mowed off.  I took another photo later but there is so much green you can hardly see how pendulous the racemes are.

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 6-19-19, #633-9.

This very large colony of Persicaria hydropiper with mainly green stems is growing next to the rock pile behind the lagoon. Well, not really a pile of rocks so much as large pieces of the old concrete foundation from an old barn. The barn used to be where the lagoon is and was one that my grandpa (mom’s dad) and his brother-in-law (Uncle Arthur) tore down and rebuilt here around 1960 or a few years later. They rebuilt the barn here and used the original square nails to rebuild it. I have a lot of memories of that barn, and not all good. The barn was VERY OLD and not all that sturdy. You had to be very careful walking around in the loft because there were a lot of holes in the floor. One time I fell through all the way to the ground. 🙂 Even though it was very old, it was also very neat. I always loved old barns…

Getting back to the above photo… You can see how the racemes of flowers are kind of growing in every direction.

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 8-30-19, #618-44.

Persicaria hydropiper can typically grow to around 36″ tall, or long. They are mainly decumbent unless they can lean on other plants. Missouri Plants says: “To 1m tall, herbaceous, glabrous or with some pubescence above, typically green or reddish, erect to spreading, multiple or single from base, simple to few-branching.”

Most Smartweeds are decumbent, which means they sprawl but turn upward toward the end. They root at their leaf nodes which allows them to spread quite readily. Even though these plants may appear to be only around 2′ tall (more or less), if you pull them will see the entire plant is much longer and has a lot of stems doing the same thing… Branching out… Some species grow more upright than others especially if they can lean on something.

 

Typical leaf of the Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 8-30-19, #618-46.

Their alternate leaves have short petioles, sort of olive green in color, lanceolate to linear, and are around 3 1/2″ long x 3/4″ wide, smooth, and normally hairless. So, if you see a colony of white-flowered Persicaria and some of the leaves are 4″ or longer, they are likely not P. hydropiper and more likely to be P. punctata.

 

Persicaria hydropiper Water Pepper) on 9-4-19, #623-26.

As with all Persicaria species, P. hydropiper stems end with a raceme of flowers. P. hydropiper racemes are very slender, are pendulous or droop sideways. Their flowers are sparsely placed along the raceme.

Oh, a raceme is an elongated inflorescence with pedicellate flowers. An inflorescence is the part of the plant that contains the flowers, usually starting from the upper leaf node in this case. Umm… A pedicel is a flower stalk with a single flower. The stem part the flowers are on has a specific name but I forgot. So, the part I forgot with the pedicles of flowers and everything that goes along with it is the raceme. Of course, the flowers themselves have many parts but that is for another time. Nevermind that!

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) flowers on 9-22-19, #635-5.

Now, about their flowers… It took me a while to get a fairly good close-up photo of the flowers of P. hydropiper. I took A LOT of photos and none were as good as the photo above. I will keep trying so I can replace this photo with a better one at some point.

Anyway, Persicaria hydropiper flowers are greenish-white have 5 sepals, 2-3 styles, 4-6 stamens, and no petals. As with P. punctata, the flowers are covered with “glandular punctate dots” which you will only notice with magnification. The “glands” turn brown when the outer sepals dry out. The outer sepals are greenish, as with P. punctata, where other species are not. The sepals of all seven species here fuse together 1/2-1/3 way toward the base.

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 9-4-19, #623-28.

This is a very interesting photo. If you are randomly observing this plant or taking photos without knowing what you are looking at, you would say, “OH, that is pretty cool”.

The ocrea, sometimes spelled ochrea, is the “sheath” surrounding the stem at the node where a leaf emerges. After a while, a branch, or branches, may grow from this same node. Some species only branch out at the lower nodes of the plant. The ocrea on Persicaria species is nearly translucent and is formed by the fusion of two stipules. One word seems to lead to another… A stipule is formed at the base of a petiole. GEEZ! A petiole is the “stem-like” gizmo between the stem and the base of a leaf. A gizmo is what you call it when you don’t know what else to call it. Many species, maybe all, have these cilia growing from their ocrea but fall off fairly soon so they don’t become an ID issue.

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 9-14-19, #631-2.

With Persicaria hydropiper and a few other species, there are a few flowers that develop at their leaf nodes. These are called “axillary racemes”.  Hmmm… A little spider is defending her territory.

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 9-16-19, #633-2.

Several species have this “zig-zag” effect on their stems, but maybe not on all their stems.

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 9-16-19, #633-2.

Another neat photo showing new stems coming from a leaf node.

 

Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 9-16-19, #633-5.

This photo shows several racemes of flowers growing from lower nodes. Very common with P. hydropiper. The flowers on many Persicaria species are shy to open, so I was surprised to see a few flowers opened up on the Persicaria hydropiper on September 16.

 

Dull seeds of the Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper) on 9-16-19, #633-6.

Here you can see the seeds of Persicaria hydropiper that are dull, not shiny, and are black to brownish color. The seeds are one of a few ways to really tell P. hydropiper from P. punctata.

For more photos and information, click to go to this species own page HERE.

One thing I might add is that the leaves are edible. I ran across an article on a website called FORAGER/CHEF that talks about eating its leaves. The taste of the leaves is another way to tell this species from Persicaria hydropiperoides. Persicaria hydropiper and P. punctata have a very hot, peppery taste whereas P. hydropiperoides does not. Some information, however, says not to eat it because it will make your mouth burn and swell. I could live without that experience.

Hindawi (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine) has A LOT of information…

 

#2-Persicaria longiseta-Oriental Lady’s Thumb

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) on 8-31-19, #619-9.

Persicaria longiseta, commonly known as Oriental Lady’s Thumb or Creeping Smartweed, is probably the second most abundant of the Smartweeds here on the farm. Ummm… It seems I find more every day, so they could be #1 by now. There didn’t appear to be that many Persicaria longiseta when I first started taking Persicaria photos and writing this post. Within a couple of weeks, I noticed them EVERYWHERE that other Persicaria species are growing. They are either very sociable or a bit nosy.

This species has many common names including Oriental Lady’s Thumb, Bristly Lady’s Thumb, Asiatic Smartweed, Creeping Smartweed, Long-Bristled Smartweed, Asiatic Waterpepper, Bristled Knotweed, Bunchy Knotweed, and Tufted Knotweed. With all those names to choose from, iNaturalist.org has chosen to call it Low Smartweed.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) on 8-31-19, #619-12.

At first, I noticed them growing along the shed in the back yard where my grandparent’s house had been then I realized this was the same species that grow in the flower bed on the north side of the house (and under the porch).

Most Persicaria species have the same basic characteristics but Persicaria longiseta has TWO KEY identifiers that set them apart from all other species here.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) showing the ocrea with cilia on 8-31-19, #619-14.

First, Persicaria longiseta has cilia (hairs, bristles…) sticking out around the top of the ocrea. While these cilia fall off of other species with age, they seem to stay on this species.

Persicaria longiseta are decumbent, of course, with light green to reddish-brown stems. They branch out near the base and send stems in every direction. Stems laying on the ground root at the nodes.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) flowers showing cilia on 9-14-19, #631-5.

The second key identifier for Persicaria longiseta is the cilia on the flowers. Now, with age, a lot of the cilia on the flowers may fall off, but there will still be a few on the flowers on the lower part of the raceme. This was a problem with the plants by the shed because most of the cilia had fallen off their flowers by the time I knew they were there. In the above photo taken on September 19 by the twin Mulberry trees in the front pasture, you can not only see the cilia but an open flower… NICE!

Persicaria longiseta racemes are typically 1 1/2″ long. The racemes seem to stay erect instead of drooping, although they may be growing vertically or horizontally.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) on 9-14-19, #631-10.

On September 14 I noticed some of the racemes of flowers on the P. longiseta in front of the Mulberry trees looked a little weird. This is the only species I have noticed with this weird feature.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) on 9-18-19, #634-40.

The above photo is of a small colony of Persicaria longiseta behind the pond at the back of the farm.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) on 9-18-19, #634-42.

This is an interesting photo…

 

Typical Persicaria longiseta leaf on 9-16-19, #633-14.

The longest leaves I have found on the Persicaria longiseta have been 4″ and may have a faint dark “smudge”. The dark spot is typical of many Persicaria species. They actually do look like a thumbprint.

 

Shiny seeds of Persicaria longiseta on 9-16-19, #633-15.

Kind of hard to tell, but the seeds of Persicaria longiseta are black and shiny.

An interesting thing, Wildflowersearcg.org says there is only a 20% chance this species is growing at this location. I haven’t figured out how to “pin” its location on that site, but I can with iNaturalist. I contacted “the guy” and we will be working together to update the location of wildflowers growing here.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) in front of the twin Mulberry trees in the front pasture on 9-22-19, #635-9.

For there to be only a 20% chance of Persicaria longiseta growing at this location there are sure a lot of them. They are everywhere Persicaria grow here in the front pasture, along the sheds and garage, in the yard, in the north flower bed under the porch, the back pasture, along the back pond and behind the pond. The rosy glow in the above photo are from their flowers.

 

Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) with Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ on 9-30-19, #636-7.

The above photo shows how the Persicaria longiseta is growing among the Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ in the northeast corner bed on September 30.

As with most Persicaria species, P. longiseta is not a U.S. native. To view this species own page, click HERE… There are A LOT MORE photos.

 

#3) Persicaria maculosa-Lady’s Thumb

Persicaria maculosa on 10-4-18.

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb, Redshank, Heart’s Ease, etc.) is very similar to Persicaria longiseta except there are no cilia on their flowers and the bristles around the ocrea on their stems fall off. I am not sure where the above photo was taken here in 2018, but currently, the only colony I have noticed is in front of the twin Mulberry trees in the front pasture. I am sure there are more somewhere.

 

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb) flowers on 9-4-19.

As you can see from the above photo, the flowers of Persicaria maculosa are not hairy… Flowers of this species are densely clustered and not all the same color. Although pink is the usual color, flowers can be red, greenish-white, or purple, even on the same raceme. Illinois Wildflowers uses the word “oblongoid” to describe the shape of the raceme of Persicaria maculosa because they are kind of rounded at the tip. Each stem can end in 1-2 racemes that grow to around 1 1/2″ long and are tightly packed. Flowers have 5 sepals and usually six stamens and no petals.

 

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb) leaves on 9-4-19.

The spot on their leaves may be oval or triangular in shape and can be fairly dark to faintly visible. Leaves can grow to around 6″ long and are smooth along the margins and sometimes slightly ciliate. Each leaf has a short petiole or can be nearly sessile (no petiole, or a very short one in this case).

 

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb’) on 9-4-19.

Some of the leaves of P. maculosa don’t have the “spot” either so it isn’t really a good way to make a positive ID all the time. You may even find colonies with no spot at all. Hmmm…

 

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb) on 9-4-19.

I thought this was interesting. New stems emerging at a node with near translucent ocrea and a few cilia that will fall off eventually.

 

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb) on 9-4-19.

Persicaria maculosa is a bit of a rambler…

To view the Persicaria maculosa page with more photos and information, click HERE.

 

#4) Persicaria pensylvanica-Pinkweed

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) on 8-30-19.

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) is plentiful and did rank #2 for a while (until P. longiseta completely went overboard). The above photo is from a large colony behind the barn rambling in a brush pile that didn’t want to burn earlier. Now I can’t find the brush pile. 🙂

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) flowers on 8-30-19.

As you can see, their tiny flowers are various shades of light pink and almost white. Some are even two-toned. I noticed several small colonies of this species with pure white flowers while mowing the pasture at a friend’s farm (Kevin’s farm).

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) ocrea on 8-30-19.

The translucent ocrea around the leaf (and stem) nodes appear to be cilialess because they have fallen off. It is strange how the top part of the ocrea is so straight, almost like they have been cut perfectly with a pair of scissors.

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) on 8-30-19.

There is a smaller colony by the gate at the front of the barn. You can see, in the next photo…

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) leaf on 8-30-19.

Some of the leaves have a dark spot that looks kind of v-shaped. A few of the stems on top of the plants were very hairy. I took photos but they were blurry. In technical terms, the stems are mostly glabrous but glandular-pubescent near the inflorescence. 🙂

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) flowers on 9-1-19.

On September 1, I was pleasantly surprised with open flowers on the P. pensylvanica. Many Persicaria species are very shy and refuse to open their flowers. The magnifying glass did very good with this photo. 🙂 It takes practice and I am not going to mention how many photos I actually took.

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) on 9-14-19, #631-15.

I finally got a pretty good shot of the hairy stems on September 14. Not quite as hairy as the one I saw previously.

To view the Persicaria pensylvanica page, click HERE.

 

#5) Persicaria punctata-Dotted Smartweed

Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed) on 8-30-19.

Without a doubt, Persicaria punctata, the Dotted Smartweed is the most plentiful of the Smartweeds on the farm. Actually, P. longiseta has become very close to becoming #1 now. A lot of photos I have taken of other Persicaria species have Persicaria punctata and/or P. longiseta in the photo as well. In fact, a lot of photos of other wildflowers, in general, have one or the other in their photos.

 

Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed) flowers on 8-30-19.

The flowers of Persicaria punctata look pretty much like P. hydropiper in that they are sparsely placed along the raceme. Both species have “punctate glandular dots” on their flowers (and other parts) you can’t see without magnification. BUT, the P. punctata racemes are basically erect or leaning not pendulous like P. hydropiper.

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (longer leaves) with Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed) leaves on 8-30-19.

The leaves of P. punctata can grow up to 6″ long x 3/4″ wide while those of P. hydropiper are usually only up to 3 1/2″ long x 3/4″ wide.

 

Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed) ocrea on 8-30-19.

The stems of P. punctata are green and glabrous and have reddish tinted nodes which are somewhat swelled. MOST of the ocrea I observed were “bristleless” because they had fallen off already. It took until September 18 before I photographed ocrea with cilia which you can see on this species own page.

 

Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed) seeds on 9-16-19, #633-21.

Persicaria punctata seeds are black and shiny while P. hydropiper seeds are black to brownish and dull (not shiny). The seeds are one of the best ways to tell the two species apart.

To read more about the Persicaria punctata and see MORE photos, go to its own page by clicking HERE.

 

#6) Persicaria sagittata (L.) H.Gross-Arrowleaf Tearthumb

per-sih-KAR-ee-uh  saj-ih-TAY-tuh

Persicaria sagittata (Arrowleaf Tearthumb) on 9-25-13, #190-26.

Persicaria sagittata (Arrowleaf Tearthumb, American Tearthumb, Arrowvine, Scratchgrass) was one of the first wildflower species I identified back in 2013. I found them growing in the swamp along with a MASSIVE colony of Impatiens capensis (Jewelweed) and some other neat wildflowers not found anywhere else on the farm. I haven’t been in the swampy area for a couple of years, but last time I checked the Broad-Leaved Panic Grass (Dichanthelium latifolium) had pretty much taken over.

 

Persicaria sagittata (Heartleaf Tearthumb) on 9-25-13.

Persicaria sagittata is native to the middle to eastern half of North America and Eastern Asia.

 

Persicaria sagittata (Arrowleaf Tearthumb) on 9-1-19, #620-46.

I think the Persicaria sagittata (Arrowleaf Tearthumb) is the most interesting of the group here on the farm. It is a very easy species to identify with their arrow-shaped leaves. The largest leaves typically grow to 4″ long x 1″ wide that feels slightly rough because of the tiny hairs.

 

Persicaria sagittata (Arrowleaf Tearthumb) on 9-1-19, #620-45.

Terminal and axillary flowers are produced on short racemes with 1-10 flowers. Sometimes there are two racemes produced per leaf node on long peduncles up to 6″ long. A peduncle is a stem the flowers grow on. A raceme is an inflorescence with pedicellate flowers that grow at the end of the peduncle. One word leads to another… I can get more technical if you like.

As with all the Persicaria species here, the flowers consist of 5 sepals and no petals. I have only noticed white flowers, but they can also be pink.

 

Persicaria sagittata (Arrowleaf Tearthumb) stem on 9-1-09, #620-47.

The stems of Persicaria sagittata are actually square instead of being round like the other species here. The stems are covered with short retrorse prickles that point downward. Their stems can grow from 3-6 feet long and can climb on other plants. Stems laying on the ground can root at the leaf nodes. I only saw plants with green stems, but they can also be red or yellowish-green. Using the magnifying glass to get a close-up photo worked pretty good in the above photo.

To view the Persicaria sagittata page click HERE

 

7) Persicaria virginiana (Jumpseed)

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 9-8-19, #626-12.

Persicaria virginiana is unique among the other Persicaria species on the farm. They are native to North America from the middle part eastward. Their common names include Jumpseed, Virginia Jumpseed, American Jumpseed, Virginia Knotweed, Woodland Knotweed, and maybe others. I didn’t really notice this species that much until one came up beside the steps to the back porch in 2017. I let the plant grow so I could make a positive ID. Even though they are considered a perennial, I think they probably mainly return from seed ( just my opinion from observation). A few plants have returned by the back porch but not in the same exact spot. This year one or two came up by the AC so I had to keep whacking them off with the trimmer along with the grass. Have to keep good airflow, you know. 🙂

On September 8 when I was on a photo spree in the back of the farm, I noticed a small colony of Persicaria virginiana in the lane near the gate that leads to the back pasture. Ummm… The problem was they are growing among the Poison Ivy so I zoomed in for a few photos.

Persicaria virginiana is more of an upright grower with stronger stems than the other species here. They are not decumbent and do not root from their lower nodes (hmmm… likely because they are not decumbent).

 

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 9-22-19, #635-22.

Then on September 22, I noticed a single small plant behind the pond in the back pasture. I was able to take quite a few photos but the light was weird so most of them didn’t come out well. I needed more photos but I have been kind of busy lately. Now, as I am writing and have the time it is raining!

Anyway, the two most distinguishing features about Persicaria virginiana is their large ovate leaves and their curious flowers (especially when they start to fruit) on very long racemes up to 16″ long. I haven’t been able to photograph their open flowers but maybe I can still do that before it is too late. Their leaves are ovate and grow up to about 6″long x 3″ wide. Leaves can have a reddish to purplish V-shaped, crescent-shaped, or triangular splotch on the upper surface. I didn’t notice this on any of the plants here but some photos online do show this feature.

While the lower part of the stems are basically smooth, the upper stems and leaf surfaces have appressed hairs. You can’t see the hairs without magnification but they feel slightly rough. I didn’t get good photos of the ocrea around the leaf nodes yet, but they are brownish and weirdly fuzzy and sort of look like someone took a wire brush to them. The ocrea tends to dry and fall off so they are absent on the photos I did get.

 

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 9-22-19, #635-26.

Umm… Their flowers are very small and I was able to get this close-up when I was taking a group photo of the Persicaria flowers on the back porch. Luckily I was able to find a plant flowering by the AC. If I had have known what their seeds looked like at the time I would have opened up a flower to have a look…  Unfortunately, I didn’t know until I was reading about them in Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri to write their description on October 10 (late in the evening). I am hoping the rain will stop while I am writing so I can get photos! But, if you are reading this and there are no seed photos you will know that didn’t happen… I want to get this post finished!

The most interesting thing about this plant I only read in Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri and not on any other website I have noticed. It says tension builds up at the joint of the fower as the fruit matures which acts as a spring to shoot the seed up to 12 feet away. Passing animals also trigger this action then the seed gets stuck in their fur. The small two-angled seed tapers to a hooked beak (maybe the tail in the above photo is part of the seed). Seed can be black or brown, shiny or dull… I need to get a photo of those seeds!

Persicaria virginiana can have white, green, or pinkish flowers. They are sometimes used in woodland gardens and there are a few cultivars with red flowers and variegated leaves. There is a rare variant of this species in the south with thicker leaves.

You can click HERE to view the page for Persicaria virginiana.

WAIT A MINUTE!!!!

I HIT THE

JUMPSEED JACKPOT!

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 10-10-19, #638-1.

Once it stopped raining this afternoon, Thursday, October 10 at 3 PM depending on when you are reading this, I decided I would see if I could find a closer Persicaria virginiana so I could get better photos of the ocrea, seed, and maybe open flowers. There were no more around the back porch or AC but I didn’t especially want to go to the back of the farm to wade in the Poison Ivy. There was one area I hadn’t been in pretty much all summer north of the chicken house. This area is about 150′ x 150′ and is where my grandparent’s old peach orchard was. I measured in the early 1980’s so I know how big it is. 🙂 Last year I backed the mower (with the tractor) in all this jungle and cleaned it up a bit. Anyway, I walked to the northeast corner and almost s–t! (sorry, but it’s true!)! Here right before my eyes was a HUGE colony of Persicaria virginiana!!! After I thought there were just a few on the whole farm, there is a HUGE colony right in the backyard!

 

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 10-10-19, #638-2.

There were no open flowers but there were SEEDS GALORE! Remember I mentioned how the seeds shoot out? Well, it is really true! One plant I touched literally vibrated as the seeds shot out!

 

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 10-10-19, #638-4.

And we have fuzzy ocrea! There were so many plants to choose from and I took over 50 photos total. Well, some were not that good and after choosing the best I saved 11. The wind was not being all that cooperative either. I truly hit the JUMPSEED JACKPOT! 🙂

 

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 10-10-19, #638-7.

The only photos I had trouble were close-ups of the flowers. Seriously, folks, I was experimenting with not one magnifying glass, but two, one on top of the other. (I bought another magnifying glass because I didn’t think the old one was a 10x. But, as it turns out, they seem to be the same.) It works like a charm and is much better than just one but it still takes practice and patience. LOL! The problem is with zooming in, and with two magnifying glasses, you have to be very still. If not, the camera complains about vibration. Zooming in with one magnifying glass was tricky and sometimes the camera would shut off and say “lens error”. With two, I didn’t have to even zoom in that much and the camera never shut off. I think I could take photos of the hair on a gnat’s eyebrow now. (I would say butt, but I already said s–t earlier which could be deemed as inappropriate behavior).

In the above photo, you can really see the “hooked beak” of the fruit. There are two…

 

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 10-10-19, #638-8.

Here’s a good one of the ocrea on one plant. The ocrea can be light to dark brown, depending on the preference of the plant. You can clearly see how the ocrea becomes dry and starts to tear away. This photo was taken toward the upper part of the plant so I could get a shot of the appressed hairs on the stem as well.

 

Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed) on 10-10-19, #638-11.

I think half of the photos I took were of the seed. The seeds are fairly small but larger than the other species. When I was removing the outer part of the achene I had to be careful not to remove the “hooked beak”. The seed itself doesn’t have a beak and is part of the entire “fruit”. Hmmm… Like many other plant’s seed, they are part of what is called an achene. An achene is a dry, one-seeded, indehiscent fruit. Indehiscent means the achene (pod or fruit) does not split open to release the seed when ripe. Sunflower and strawberry seeds are two examples… I read that description on the Missouri Plants website’s glossary… 🙂

I can hardly believe it has taken so long to write this post and I am not even sure it is actually finished. It seems like I left out so much!

Now, as temperatures are cooling down I will have to be thinking about moving plants inside for the winter. The dreaded time of the year. The forecast for here says it will be clear Friday night and we will have a widespread “F”. GEEZ!!! I am never ready for that.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. Not because I did it, but because I learned a lot and that is always a great thing. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, hug someone or something you love (not just anyone because you may get slapped). As always, it is good to GET DIRTY!

Introduction To The Next Post (Perplexing Persicaria)…

Persicaria species from left to right: Persicaria hydropiper (Water Pepper), Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb), Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb), Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed), Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed), Persicaria virginiana (Jumpseed), and Persicaria sagittata (Heartleaf Tearthumb) (also along the bottom. Photo taken on 9-22-19, #635-3.

Hello everyone! I hope this introduction to the next post finds you well. I have been working on the next post for about two months because it has taken that long to take lots of photos, make proper ID’s, write descriptions, etc. Some plants change a lot in a month as nature takes its course, so I just kept taking photos. GEEZ! All the photos on this post were taken on Sunday, September 22.

I found out there are seven species of Persicaria and the next post will take you on a very interesting journey with each one. Don’t worry, I am not including all the 188 saved photos of Persicaria in the post. Most of the photos will go to each species own page (whenever I get those finished). I have identified 129 wildflowers now, mostly from this small farm. There are A LOT more I haven’t identified or even looked at because I consider them weeds rather than wildflowers. While walking around taking photos of plants, I have also taken a lot of photos of butterflies, spiders, and other critters that are busy working to survive.

 

 

Persicaria hydropiper Water Pepper) colony on 9-22-19, #635-4.

The Persicaria hydropiper, commonly known as Water Pepper, own the territory between the lagoon and the pond south of the barn, and approximately 60′ or so southwest of the pond. Persicaria is a friendly and sociable genus, so in the mix are other species as well. Persicaria hydropiper is also one of the most “variable” species here so they had me going for a while until I discovered their secret. I had to wait until plants matured enough to find out, though, which took some time. I will tell you their secret in the next post.

 

The largest Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb) colony on 9-22-19, #635-9.

While the largest colony of Persicaria doesn’t belong to the Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady’s Thumb), they are in the running for second place. Not only do they occupy this good-sized area between the ditch and the twin Mulberry trees, they are also growing among ALL other species on the entire farm (even along two sheds, the garage, and the north flower bed). From the front of the farm to behind the back pond and even in the swampy area in the southeast corner. The pink cast you see in the above photo is the Persicaria longiseta. They have two key identifiers, one which almost disappears with age.

 

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb) on 9-22-19, #635-10.

Sad to say, the Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb) is almost extinct here. They are only growing in an area maybe 12″ x 36″ with only a few plants in front of the Mulberry trees and nowhere else on the farm. Their flowers have pretty much run their course and are now setting seed.

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) on 9-22-19, #635-11.

There are only a few small colonies of Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) here. The one in the above photo is growing east of the largest colony of P. punctata behind the chicken house. There is a small colony by the gate in front of the barn and another small colony on the north side of the twin Mulberry trees. They are growing here and there among other species in several areas as well, but not many.

 

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed) on 9-22-19, #635-13.

The good thing about Persicaria pensylvanica is that their flowers open freely. The other species are very shy to open if at all. Persicaria species are self-pollinating and even pollinate without opening.

 

Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed) on 9-22-19, #635-16.

The most prolific and largest colony of Smartweeds belong to Persicaria punctata (Dotted Smartweed). They occupy the territory behind the chicken house en mass and what a mess! There are a few P. hydropiper and P. longiseta among them and one P. pensylvanica colony are growing among them. The interesting thing about P. punctata is that they are allotetraploid… Its parents are P. hydropiper as the pollen parent and P. hirsuta or P. setacea as the seed parent, all of which are diploid. They just haven’t figured out which of the last two are seed parents. Actually, could be either one or both depending on location. Neither P. hirsuta or P. setacea is growing here or even close, so the hybridization was done elsewhere such as the southeast part of the country. P. punctata shares the characteristic “punctate glandular dots” on their tepals as P. hydropiper with long racemes of flowers with the other two parents. Well, the inflorescence of P. hydropiper are fairly long as well. A PL2int analysis suggested 15 cases of allotetraploid speciation, including 2 hexaploids and an octaploid. It is believed P. punctata has become so widespread through seed contamination. The fact that they are hybrids has given them a distinct edge over diploid species. In some cases, P. punctata has flourished where its parents have failed to spread.

Persicaria punctata isn’t the only species to begin its life as a hybrid. The tetraploid Persicaria maculosa has been traced to the diploid P. foliosa and the parental lineage “seems to be” P. lapathifolia (both native of Eurasia)Testing shows Persicaria pensylvanica is an octaploid whose parent could be P. glabra or P. hispida.

 

Persicaria sagittata (Arrowleaf Tearthumb) on 9-22-19, #635-17.

The Persicaria sagittata (Arrowleaf Tearthumb) is one of the neatest of the Persicaria species. The stems appear to just go up through the base of their leaves. The common name comes from the short, stiff bristles on the stems. These are only growing in the swampy area in the southeast corner of the farm. I made their positive ID in 2013 when I first ventured into the swamp. There was a good-sized colony back then, but I have no idea what its condition is now. From a distance, it appears the Panic Grass (Dichanthelium latifolium) has taken over. I started to go into the swamp this afternoon but backed off. My DRYSHOD boots (we had rain) were already covered with every kind of stick tights imaginable just to take the above photo and get a sample for the first photo.

 

Persicaria virginiana (Jumpseed) on 9-22-19, #635-21.

GEEZ! I screwed up! While I was behind the pond at the back of the farm, I found a lonely Persicaria virginiana (Jumpseed). It is strange how a single plant can be growing anywhere here. How did it get here in the first place for there only to be one? The plan was to take a better photo of this species by the back gate (involved with Poison Ivy) or behind the house. I took a few photos anyway, mainly because I didn’t want to get too friendly with the plants by the gate. After I took the photos behind the pond, I ventured to the swampy area to take photos of the P. sagittata. Hmmm… These photos are in alphabetical order, not the way they were taken. 🙂 After I left the swamp I decided to pass on the plants by the gate and wait until I went to the house.

 

Persicaria virginiana (Jumpseed) leaf on 9-22-19, #635-23.

On the way to the house, I snatched a few racemes to take the group photo (the photo at the top). When I got to the house I snapped a photo of the Leucocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ and Colocasia esculenta and that was that. The battery was dead… I put the battery in the charger and waited about 30 minutes then took the group photo. I forgot about P. virginiana behind the house.

I met a lady behind the pond and she was a beauty. I asked her name but she was way to busy to stop and talk…

 

Araneus marmoreus (Marbled Orb Weaver) on 9-22-19, #635-1.

I checked with iNaturalist and found out she is Araneus marmoreus (Marbled Orb Weaver). She didn’t run off like her cousin, the Neoscona crucifera (Spotted Orb Weaver), did a few days ago. Strange how they have the same shape and are a different genus. OK, I’ll show her to you even though the photo was taken on the 18th.

 

Neoscona crucifera (Spotted Orb Weaver) on 9-18-19, #634-32.

She was working on her web fairly close to where I spotted the Marbled Orb Weaver today. She thought I was being a little too nosy, so she hurried up her web. I tried to get a photo but she was moving around so much I couldn’t get a good shot. She finally moved back down to where she had been working on an insect caught in her web.

Well, that’s all I wanted to say for now. Hopefully, I can finish the next post, Perplexing Persicaria, tonight or tomorrow. OH, heck! It is already tomorrow… 1:14 AM on Monday.

Until next time, take care, be safe and stay positive!

 

Elephantopus carolinianus and Perilla frutescens Observed

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-19.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I was helping a friend move cattle from his mother’s farm a few days ago and stumbled across this interesting plant. I helped him move a 1964 Ford Pickup from a hill that had been in the trees for 15 years a couple of days earlier. That was interesting. I didn’t take the camera at the time but I wish I had because seeing the old pickup in the trees and what we went through to get off the hill and up the road to the house would have made an interesting post. His mother sold her farm so we had to get everything moved.

 

Perilla frutescens (Beefsteak Plant) on 9-9-19.

Now, you have to visualize a shady hillside with a creek running along the side. The hillside is covered in trees with literally THOUSANDS of Perilla frutescens (Beefsteak Plant). While I was waiting for my friend (Jay) and another helper (Jay Wagler, Ruth Wagler’s son from Wagler’s Greenhouse), to drive the cows up from somewhere, I waited on the hill. Of course, I had my camera that day so I took several photos of the Perilla frutescens.

 

Perilla frutescens (Beefsteak Plant) flowers on 9-9-19.

I thought it was very interesting how the Perilla frutescens there were in full bloom when the plants behind my back pond were just budding.

After a while, the cows came so I had to forget about taking photos. I had to go up the hill from where I was then run down the hill as fast as I could, through all the Perilla, trees, vines, etc. toward the creek, then across the creek so the cows couldn’t go back to where they had come from. While I was running toward the creek, I almost tripped more than a few times. Anyway, as I was running I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going because I was looking at the plants. I spotted a plant I had never seen before but I didn’t have time to stop… By the time I made it to the creek, the cows were heading that direction. They crossed the creek and so did I.

Now, if you have ever driven cattle through a forest that have no idea why they are being herded in the first place, you will know they aren’t just casually walking. Some of them are calm and in no hurry while most of them have their ears up and are running full speed ahead. The calves were going in circles because they had no clue. Mama cows would run ahead then realize their kid wasn’t with them, so they would turn around. And, of course, there were always a few that just stand way behind the others that think they can get left behind. They try to sneak off while you are trying to get the runners to go where you want them and not where they want to go, which is back to where they were in the first place. The opening we needed them to go through was plain as day and right in front of them. What did they do? They stood there looking at the opening. The opening in the fence was to the pasture where the barn was… Ummm… Where the corral was. Now, if you are a cow that is used to a daily routine you would be wondering why you are being herded to the barn in the morning instead of being called to eat feed later in the afternoon. You would be thinking something is fishy. After a while, a few started toward me. Then the rest followed. As I waved at them they found another opening in the fence so they could circle around to the other opening to try and get away. Well, that didn’t work and finally, they went to the barn.

There is a little more to what happened next, but we did finally get them in the coral. All but a cow named Fuzzy who escaped.

Once the cows were in the trailer, I walked back to the creek. I had to go back up the hill to get the tractor I had left there but the tractor wasn’t on my mind. I had to find that weird plant!

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-19.

I crossed the creek and started up the hill through all the vegetation. The hillside was nice and shady and I had to just stand for a minute to admire nature at its finest. There was so much life going on! The bugs were all busy feeding on flowers and each other, birds were flying around, butterflies flying from one flower to another. I found the plant I was looking for with no problem because there were a lot of them along the bottom of the hillside. It was sure a strange plant and I had never seen any quite like it. That evening I identified the plant as Elephantopus carolinianus (el-eh-fun-TOE-pus  kair-oh-lin-ee-AN-us). Common names include Elephant’s Foot, Carolina Elephant’s Foot, and Leafy Elephant’s Foot.

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

Reading the description of this plant on the Missouri Plants website can be pretty complicated.

Inflorescence – Capitate cluster (glomerule) of flower heads terminating stems. Peduncles to +10cm, antrorse appressed pubescent. Peduncles subtended by a single foliaceous bract. Flower clusters subtended by typically three foliaceous bracts to +/-4cm long. Bracts with antrorse appressed pubescence.

I think that means the stem ends in a cluster of flower heads that are compact or unusually compressed. Close to the top of the stem is a leaf with another 3 1/2-4″ of stem above it. Then there are 3 leaves (foliaceous bracts) which the flower clusters sit on. Bracts and peduncles have short hairs.

Involucre – Phyllaries loose, to -1cm long, 2mm broad, acute, green in upper 1/2, scarious below.

GEEZ! An involucre is a bract (phyllary) or set of bracts (phyllaries) that surround a flower or cluster of flowers. In this case, I believe there is something a little strange going on… Skip down to the photo after the next one…

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-19.

The flowers are rather strange. Although this plant is a member of the Asteraceae (composite) family, the flowers are not “daisy-like”. They only have disc flowers.

“Disk flowers – Corolla lilac to whitish, irregularly 5-lobed. Corolla tube 5mm long, glabrous. Lobes to 5mm long, linear, glabrous. Stamens 5, adnate at base of corolla tube. Anthers connate around style, 2mm long, exserted. Style included. Achene (in flower) white, pubescent, 2mm long. Pappus of 5 bristles. Bristles to 5mm long, slightly flattened and expanded at base.”

Hmmm………………………………………. Something seems a bit odd.

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

Some of the plants have lavender-pink flowers. The above photo is somewhat easier to explain… The flower emerges from the phyllaries… WAIT A MINUTE! Take a closer look at that mass of petals… Something is weird! I think I need to jump the fence and have a closer look. How many flowers do you see? One? Count again… I see at least four.

So, using the above descriptions, each bract has a set of four loose phyllaries (actually 2 pairs of 2) in which 4-5 flowers emerge from. Have you ever seen a Fan Flower (Scaevola sp.) where the petals are on only on half the flower? I think that’s what is going on here…

It would have been better to have read the descriptions then searched for this plant so you will know what to look for. For sure you would have known what this plant is when you see it because there is none even similar.

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

Lower leaves are quite large and “spatula-like”. One website says these lower leaves are 5″ long, but just guessing, I would say they are closer to at least 8″.

Missouri Plants says: “Alternate, sessile, elliptic to oblanceolate or spatulate, acute to acuminate, shallow serrate to crenate-serrate, slightly scabrous and pubescent below, sparse pubescent and shiny dark green above, to -30cm long, -10cm broad, tapering to base.” That is about 11″ long by about 4″ wide and the leaves attach directly to the stem with no petiole (sessile).

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

The plant’s upper leaves are MUCH smaller and kind of oval in shape. Here you can see this leaf is what is meant when Missouri Plants says: “Peduncles subtended by a single foliaceous bract.” This leaf is where the “inflorescence” begins and is part of it as the “single foliaceous bract.” At least that is my opinion. Subtended means “under” so it makes sense.

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

Besides a camera, I also need to remember to take the magnifying glass, a small note pad and pen… A field guide would also be promising. I haven’t normally been one to bring plants home from other locations, but I am really tempted with this one. I saw this plant again while I was helping Jay at either his farm or in the back yard of his mothers (the one she sold). Apparently this plant is fairly common in that neck of the woods. I think I may need to check the creek behind here even though I don’t own that property. I normally only go there in the spring to hunt morels. No one will ever know… 🙂

 

Elephantopus carolinianus (Elephant’s Foot) on 9-9-13.

I think I read somewhere that the bracts contain a single seed that doesn’t fall out. The whole bract falls off with the seed still inside.

Map from USDA Plant Database showing where Elephantopus carolinianus is native.

Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 23 species of Elephantopsis. Four are native to the United States including E. carolinianus, E. elatus, E. nudatus, and E. tomentosus. E. carolinianus most abundant from Kansas down to Texas and eastward to Pennsylvania and down to Florida and has been Introduced to Cuba. Most species are native to several countries in South America and several in a few countries in Africa. 

The cows were loaded into a trailer in the afternoon and taken to another pasture. As far as I know, Fuzzy is still at large.

I have been working on the post about the Persicaria species (Smartweeds) here and ran into a snag. Two species are very much alike and one is variable. One has longer leaves than the other and both have the same identifying features. I think many colonies could have both species which makes it complicated. I was measuring leaves in a very large colony and a few plants have 6″ long leaves while most are 3 1/2 to 4″. The rest of the species were fairly easy to identify. I am going to check out Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri on Monday at the library to see if they can help. The original was written by Julian Steyermark was published in 1963. In 1987, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Missouri Department of Conservation decided to work together and revise and update the older book in a three-volume set. The first edition, written by Mr. Steyermark was published in 1999 and it is available at the local branch. Volume two was published in 2006 and volume 3 in 2013. Volume 2 and three were written by George Yatskievych. They are at another branch but can be delivered here or I can drive 18 miles to pick them up. Each volume has over 1,000 pages. The post is ready, but I need to make sure about the one (or two) species.

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Be thankful and observant. Never know what you may will run across.

 

The Quest For Truth Part 2: Wildflower ID-The Swamp Revisited

Agrimonia parviflora (Swamp Agrimony) flowers on 7-28-19.

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. Sunday and Monday I revisited the swamp in the back southeast corner of of the farm then walked the south side. It was very enjoyable and I found a few new wildflowers. I have been here since 2013 taking photos of wildflowers throughout the growing season and it seems there is always something new. The butterflies, bees, grasshoppers, and other insects were very busy. I returned twice on Monday because I found a few new plants and had to go back to take more photos for more positive ID.

The Agrimonia parviflora (Swamp Agrimony) in the above photo is doing well and its flowers are now opening. NICE! A better description is in the previous post.

I do not go into the swampy area that often because it is completely overgrown and getting worse every year.

 

Hypericum punctatum (Spotted St. John’s Wort) on 7-29-19.

While poking around near the swamp at the edge of where the grass had been mowed for hay, I noticed several wildflowers I hadn’t seen before. One group was this Hypericum punctatum which is commonly known as Spotted St. John’s Wort.

 

Hypericum punctatum (Spotted St. John’s Wort) on 7-29-19.

I took many photos of these plants flowers, leaves, and stems so I could get an ID. Umm… Missouriplants.com give detailed descriptions for NINE species of Hypericum to choose from. Sooooo… I had to go back later, at 7 PM, for further observation which led to another discovery.

 

Hypericum punctatum (Spotted St. John’s Wort) on 7-29-19.

Its flowers were closed up for the night. Hmmm… Anyway, there are several differences between the species one being their flowers. Hypericum punctatum have spots and streaks on the surface of their petals. Other species just have dots near their petals margins, but most do not have any. So, I had returned to look at these plants petals with a magnifying glass. Even though the flowers were closed, I can safely say this species is Hypericum punctatum, the Spotted St. John’s Wort.

 

Hypericum punctatum (Spotted St. John’s Wort) buds on 7-29-19.

Hypericum punctatum was named and described by Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de Lamarck in Encyclopedie Methodique in 1797. I would hate to have that many names. Plants of the World Online lists 504 accepted species of Hypericum so I am fortunate to only have nine species to choose from.

Bees are attracted to their flowers because of the pollen but their flowers do not produce nectar. Mammals seldom eat these plants foliage because the leaves contain hypericin which can blister the skin and irritate the digestive tract.

 

Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco, Etc.) on 7-29-19.

In the mix and nearly covered by other weeds was this wildflower I finally identified as Lobelia inflata. I made the positive ID after the second trip and looking into its throat with a magnifying glass. OK, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. Its main common name is Indian Tobacco, but other names include Asthma Weed, Bladderpod, Gagroot, and Pukeweed.

 

Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco, Etc.) on 7-29-19.

Lobelia is not the only genus that has species with two upper and three lower lips but their flowers are MUCH larger. The petals and throat of the Lobelia inflata are white, usually, with no dots or streaks.

 

Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco, Etc.) flowers on 7-29-19.

Although these plants flowers are very small, it packs an interesting medicinal history. The Wikipedia says it was used by several Native American tribes to treat muscle and respiratory disorders, as a purgative, and as a ceremonial medicine. The leaves were burned by the Cherokee to smoke out gnats. It is still used in medicine today but it can have adverse side effects such as sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, rapid heartbeat, mental confusion, convulsions, hypothermia, coma, and possibly death. Possibly? The plant contains 52 different alkaloid compounds, most importantly lobeline.

 

Phyla lanceolata (Lanceleaf Fogfruit) on 7-29-19.

I first noticed this interesting wildflower on Sunday but all the photos of the flowers were blurry. I found several more of these plants growing under and among the weeds on Monday and took more photos. The magnifying glass works wonders once you get the hang of using it with the camera. I finally found out this wildflower is the Phyla lanceolata, commonly known as Lanceleaf Fogfruit and Lanceleaf Frogfruit. Hmmm… This plant was first named Lippia lanceolata by André Michaux in 1803 but was changed to Phyla lanceolata by Edward Lee Greene in 1899. Missouriplants.com uses the first name even though it was changed 120 years ago! Maybe they didn’t get the memo… There isn’t much online about this plant besides technical ID stuff which I will be adding to its own plant page once I have it finished.

I was hoping to find a connection with fog or frogs…

 

Prunella vulgaris (Heal-All, etc.) on 7-28-19.

While visiting the back of the farm on Sunday, I noticed this neat plant called Prunella vulgaris. It has many common names including Heal-All, Common Self-Heal, Woundwort, Heart-Of-The-Earth, Carpenter’s Herb, Brownwort, and Blue Curls. I revisited this plant on Monday to take more photos because many of what I took before were blurry but not because the flowers are very small. Some plants just seem somewhat difficult to photo especially in full sun.

Prunella vulgaris is native in almost all of the Northern Hemisphere and introduced in much of South America. Plants of the World Online lists eight species in the genus and only two that are native to the United States and Missouri. Missouriplants.com and Midwest Weeds and Wildflowers only describe one. Most species in the genus are only found in small areas. Although listed as a US native, it was apparently brought here by settlers from Europe.

 

Prunella vulgaris (Heal-All) on 7-29-19.

The description of the inflorescence on Missouriplants.com says:

Inflorescence – Terminal dense 4-angled spike of verticillasters to +/-7cm tall(long), 1.5-2cm thick. Verticillasters each with 6 flowers(3 flowers per cymule). Cymules subtended by broad ciliate-margined bracts. Bracts decussate, abruptly acuminate, 1.6cm broad. Flowers sessile.

 

Prunella vulgaris (Heal-All, Etc.) on 7-29-19.

I haven’t experienced this plant that long, but I think the dark areas are buds. While most plants flower from the bottom up, this one seems to have no particular order. About the flowers, Missouriplants.com says:

Flowers – Corolla bilabiate whitish-purple. Corolla tube to 8mm long, glabrous. Upper lip galeate, purple, 6-7mm long, 5mm broad, with a few villous hairs externally on midvein. Lower lip 3-lobed. Lateral lobes 2-3mm long, 1.5mm broad. Central lobe 4mm long, deflexed, fimbriate-erose at apex, light purple. Stamens 4, didynamous, included under the galea, upper pair adnate near base of galea, lower pair adnate near base of corolla tube. Filaments purple, glabrous, the longest to 1.2cm. Anthers purplish-brown. Style inserted between upper pair of stamens, glabrous, lilac, 1.6cm long. Stigma 2-lobed. Ovary 4-parted. Calyx bilabiate, accrescent, 10-nerved. Tube to 5mm long in flower. Upper lip with three mucronate lobes, reddish-purple at apex.  Lower lip 2-lobed. Lobes acuminate, 3mm long in flower, reddish-purple. Calyx villous on margins and on nerves. Nutlets to 2mm long, brownish-yellow, glabrous.

Hmmm… That was an interesting copy and paste.

 

Prunella vulgaris (Heal-All, Etc.) on 7-29-19.

I originally saw this plant on Sunday and thought it was only growing in the area by the swamp. After my first visit to the area Monday afternoon I walked the fence along the back pasture and saw it growing in MANY areas. Although it isn’t favored by cows, they will eat it along with the grass which is probably I hadn’t noticed it before. This plant is definitely not new to the area or it wouldn’t be so widespread.

The Wikipedia says this plant is edible and can be used in salads, soups, stews, and as a pot herb. It can also be used as a tea. The plant is considered by the Chinese to ‘change the course of a chronic disease”. The plant contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as flavonoids, rutin, and many other chemical constituents. The VeryWell website has a good article about the benefits of this plant.

This plant was a neat find and almost overlooked because it was growing among taller plants. You just never know unless you have a closer look…

My thanks to Missouriplants.com, the Missouri State University website Midwest Weeds and Wildflowers, Wildflowersearch.org and their many links that helped to make a positive ID. My thanks to Plants of the World Online by Kew for plant name research and to Dave’s Garden for pronunciation. I am also thankful to the many contributors of the Wikipedia pages who work hard to give so much information about plants. I am thankful for having an interest in plants and being part of the abundance and beauty of nature and being able to experience it first hand. I give thanks to God (Mother Father God, the Universe, etc., whichever you prefer) for its creation. OK, I will stop now even though I have more…

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed finding the plants, taking their photos, and doing the research. In time they will have their own pages.

Until next time, take care, be safe, stay positive and be thankful!

 

Pink Queen’s Ann’s Lace, Swamp Agrimony, & Tall Thistle

Hello everyone! I hope this finds you well and that you are having a great week ahead. Last week the hay was cut and baled here on the farm so now I can resume taking wildflower photos here.

I found something very unusual on Thursday while working at Kevin’s farm north of town…

 

Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace) on 7-25-19.

There are A LOT of Daucus carota or Queen Anne’s Lace growing everywhere now, but there is something definitely strange about this particular plant…

 

Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace) on 7-25-19.

It has pink flowers! Just like with the Achillea millefolium a while back with pink flowers, one plant out of hundreds with pink flowers! I think that is so neat and I feel very blessed to witness plants in nature doing something different than most in their species.

I took a few other photos of plants I am watching for positive ID… I think I am confusing myself by taking photos of plants I can’t ID because all I have is leaves.

I have been trying to get a photo of a certain plant here on the farm since 2013. I always see the leaves in the swampy area but never any flowers. This year, I FINALLY did it!

 

Agrimonia parviflora (Swamp Agrimony) on 7-25-19.

I went to the back of the farm to remove the electric fence in the middle of the back pasture so it would be easier to cut the hay. LOW AND BEHOLD there was one of these plants right next to the electric fence about 12-14′ away from the HUGE OLD Multiflora Rose. It was very tall and getting ready to flower. I removed the fence and put the five electric fence posts around this plant. I put the yellow insulators on top of the posts to sort of act as flags. I told BJ about the plant and where it was and I had put the posts around it so he couldn’t miss it. I told him I wanted a photo of it so not to mow over it. I didn’t have the camera with me at the time or I would have taken photos right then. The next day I went back with the camera to take photos. Well, my thoughts about him not being able to miss it were true… He didn’t miss it! He ran smack over the plant and the five steel posts! Always in the past, there were several of these plants growing down by the swamp so I went to have a look. Sure enough, they were also getting ready to flower so I got my photos after all and made a positive ID. I didn’t complain to BJ about mowing the HUGE specimen because it was already done. He was there to mow and bale the hay and undoubtedly was looking forward and behind and didn’t even think about the plant. I am sure he remembered when he hit the posts, though.

 

Lower leaves of the Agrimonia parviflora (Swamp Agrimony) on 7-25-19.

There are a few species of Agrimonia in Missouri, but the leaves easily distinguish Agrimonia parviflora from the others. The common name is Swamp Agrimony, Small-Flowered Agrimony, Harvestlice Agrimony, and Harvestlice. Plants of the World Online lists 21 accepted species in the genus but the Wikipedia says about 15. There are seven or so species in the US with three being described on the Missouriplants.com website. This species is found in 32 states in the United States. Out of all the species, Agrimonia parviflora is considered to be the most noxious.

 

Agrimonia parviflora (Swamp Agrimony) on 7-25-19.

Although bees and other insects feed on the nectar of the flowers, most mammals avoid this plant due to its bitter taste. Certain birds use Agrimony in their nests to keep away parasites such as lice and mites because of its foul aroma and taste. Flowers give way to bur-like seed capsules that cling to the fur of animals.

Even though considered a noxious plant, its burs were used by Native Americans for diarrhea and to reduce fever. The roots can be pulverized and have been used to increase red blood cell count, a gastrointestinal aid, a topical treatment for skin issues, and as a dietary aid. 

Probably the most interesting thing about the Agrimonia parviflora is that it is a member of the Rosaceae Family along with Roses…

Now then… After I took photos of the Agrimony, I walked to the corner to the tree line that borders the south hayfield. It’s a little hard to explain, but trust me, I know where I am going. 🙂 Here again, are plants I had not seen flower because they didn’t have the opportunity before.

 

Arilus cristatus (Wheel Bug) on the Cirsium altissimum.

Hmmm… I better move to the next plant. This one has a hungry stalker and I wouldn’t want this Wheel Bug to invite me to dinner or think I was interested in his.

 

Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) on 7-25-19.

In the corner of this area were three of these plants and there are a few more farther north. I was unsure what these plants were so I took lots of photos to help ID. Doing research on several websites, I thought at first they could be a Sonchus species usually referred to as Sow Thistles. There are three Sonchus species mentioned by Missouriplants.com, Wildflowerresearch.org, and Midwest Weeds and Plants but the lower leaves and top of the plant do not match. It is definitely not Sonchus asper because this plant is friendly and S. asper is definitely not. Ummm… I also found one of those in another area. The tallest plant in the corner appears to be well over 8′ tall. Maybe I should take a tape measure and check for sure. It would also be a good idea to measure the leaves. That might sound a little overboard but you will see why in a minute.

 

Lower leaves of the Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) on 7-25-19.

These plants could be Sonchus oleraceus, the Common Sowthistle but the lower leaves absolutely do not match. Sonchus oleraceus is not a spiny plant either. After looking at many photos on several websites, I came to the conclusion these plants are Cirsium altissimum, comonly known as the Tall Thistle.

 

Central leaves of the Cirsium altissimim (Tall Thistle) on 7-25-19.

The leaves change shape and become very long, broad, and lance-shaped with toothed margins. Again, they are not spiny. Very similar to Sonchus oleraceus.

 

Bud of the Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) on 7-25-19.

The buds are globe-shaped. A small spider had made a home on this bud.

 

Top view of a bud on the Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) on 7-25-19.

You have to admit this is a neat bud… All the photos of buds I have looked at are farther along than these. So, Sonchus bud search was unfruitful. After determining it was probably a Cirsium species, I saw buds that were similar which helped to ID this plant.

 

Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) on 7-25-19.

Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) is somewhat variable in the way they grow and what they look like from one location to another. I think light plays a big factor. The plant growing in full sun is shorter, has no lobed lower leaves, and the inflorence is more open. The plant  in this photo is growing in a mostly shaded area.

 

Top part of the Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) on 7-25-19.

As with the Tall Thistle, Sowthistle flowers are normally well above the leaves. The lower leaves and flower buds were the determining factor before the buds open. After that, the Cirsium flowers will be a pinkinsh color while Sonchus species have yellow flowers. Probably, if I had ever seen a Sonchus species in the first place, I wouldn’t have been confused initially. I am sure they are much different in several other ways as well. Hopefully someday I will meet a Sonchus.

UPDATE: THE “could be” Sonchus oleraceus is Cirisium altissimum, a Tall Thistle.

Well, that’s all for this post. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.

More Wildflower ID & New Friends

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you doing well. I took a few wildflower photos as I was working on Wednesday. It only takes a couple of seconds to whip the camera out of my pocket and take a few photos.

The thistle battle continues at a friends farm but I think I have made great progress. On Thursday I was at one small area along the boundary fence and almost fell over. I looked across the fence and saw a patch of hundreds of Musk Thistle flowers laughing at me. I had very few thistles here this year but that doesn’t mean there won’t be A LOT more next year. The seed is good in the soil for many years. You have to have a plan and understand you have to stick with it. Not that you can’t amend it, but you have to have a goal in mind. Even though the seeds will come up every year no matter what you do, the goal is to get rid of the flowers before they go to seed. They come up from seed and remain in a flattish rosette the first year and flower their second year. I am not a fan of spraying, believe me, but sometimes you have to do it. For the most part, digging them up here has worked fine because I never did have that many and just in the front pasture and a few on the pond bank. My friend has a MUCH BIGGER pasture and digging them all would have driven me nuttier than I already am. 🙂

OK, here we go… In alphabetical order…

 

Asclepias viridis (Green-Flowered Milkweed) on 5-30-19, #578-2.

I first posted about the Asclepias viridis (Green-Flowered Milkweed) a few weeks ago. I have none of this species here but there are quite a few of them in Kevin’s pasture.

 

Asclepias viridis (Green-Flowered Milkweed) seed pods on 6-19-19, #592-3.

This Milkweed is also known as the Green Milkweed, Green Antelopehorn, and Spider Milkweed. Many Milkweeds are favored by the Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed Tussock Moths, but apparently, this species sheds its leaves before they arrive. The latex sap is toxic to humans and animals so I guess that is one reason the cows avoid them.

 

Cichorium intybus (Chicory or Road Aster) on 6-19-19, #592-12.

There are quite a few Cichorium intybus, commonly known as Chicory or Road Aster growing in the pasture, and along the highways and back roads. You can’t miss them as they are one of the very few blue wildflowers blooming now. It is one of the many members of the Asteraceae Family along with Dandelions. The roots of the Cichorium intybus var. sativum is ground, baked, and used as a coffee substitute. Although the leaves are a bit strange, they can be eaten in salads. It is also closely related to Cichorium endivia which is also called Chickory and Curly Endive which is popular in salads. An extract from the root of Cichorium intybus, inulin, is used as a sweetener and a source of dietary fiber. Other common names include Blue Daisy, Blue Dandelion, Blue Sailors, Blue Weed, Bunk, Coffeeweed, Cornflower, Hendibeh, Horseweed, Ragged Sailors, Succory, Wild Bachelor’s Buttons, and Wild Endive. I found all that information on Wikipedia… There’s more but I am exhausted… OH, one more thing… I found a cluster of these plants with near-white flowers, kind of bi-colored, but the photos were blurry. So, I will have to locate them again and take better photos.

 

Dianthus armeria (Deptford Pink) on 6-19-19, #592-14.

This delightful Dianthus armeria commonly known as Deptford Pink or Pink Grass grows just about everywhere in Kevin’s pasture and a few areas here on the farm. Although it is considered a native Missouri plant, it is not originally from North America. Although they are plentiful in “poorer” soils, they don’t compete well with other plants where the ground is more fertile. In other words, they are not pushy. The leaves are high in saponins which makes it fairly unattractive to livestock. Most photos online show plants with white spots on the petals, but as you can see in the above photo, these seem to have maroon spots. Hmmm…

 

Erigeron sp. on 6-19-19, #592-16.

There are LOTS of this Fleabane (Erigeron sp.) growing just about everywhere. I haven’t correctly identified the species because there are likely to be several that look so much alike it is hard to tell. The same is true for Symphytotrichum species. 🙂 The two genera mainly differ in petal length and type of catalysts, but there may be up to three species of each growing here on the farm I am sure. When I got more into wildflower ID here on the farm, I became somewhat frustrated with my many trips back and forth from the computer to the plants. Then there was group growing along the fence in the front pasture that is 3x taller than normal. Not to mention some of the colonies had pinkish flowers. When I realized they were quite amused with my bewilderment, they said, “We are quite variable.” Quite…

 

Leucanthemum vulgare (Ox-Eye Daisy) on 6-19-19, #592-21.

The Leucanthemum vulgare (Ox-Eye Daisy) are growing in a few isolated areas on Kevin’s farm but I have not seen any here. They are also not originally native to the United States.

 

Leucanthemum vulgare (Ox-Eye Daisy) on 6-19-19, #592-22.

They have larger flowers than the above mentioned Fleabane. They have many common names including Ox-Eye Daisy, Dog Daisy, Field Daisy, Marguerite, Moon Daisy, Moon-Penny, Poor-Land Penny, Poverty Daisy, and White Daisy.

 

Libellula luctuosa (Widow Skimmer) on 6-19-19, #592-25.

I have seen a lot of Dragonflies over the years, but this was the first time I have seen a Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa). It flew down right next to where I was working and I got this photo first shot. That was good because it quickly flew to another spot. I chased it down and took a few other photos but they turned out blurry. I didn’t spend much time because I was on the clock… 🙂

 

Melilotus officinalis (Yellow Sweet Clover) on 6-19-19, #592-26.

The Melilotus officinalis (Yellow Sweet Clover) is a native of Eurasia. They can grow 4-6 feet tall but rarely have that opportunity in a pasture. Hay containing this clover must be properly dried because the plants contain coumarin that converts to dicoumarol when the plants become moldy. Dicoumarol is a powerful anticoagulant toxin which can lead to bleeding diseases (internal hemorrhaging) and death in cattle. Although a sweet clover, it has somewhat of a bitter taste because of the coumarin which cows have to get used to. As with all sweet clovers, they provide nectar for honeybees.

 

Rosa setigera (Climbing Rose) on 6-19-19, #592-30.

There are a few trees with Climbing Roses (Rosa setigera) growing in them along a creek. I have several Multiflora Roses (Rosa multiflora) on the farm but none of these (Although I have seen them along the trail next to the farm).

 

Terrapene carolina triunguis (Three-Toed Box Turtle) on 6-19-19, #592-37.

I almost stepped on this Three-Toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis). I love turtles and wish I would see more of them. I am not sure how many turtle photos I have taken over the years but there are A LOT in the folder.

 

Terrapene carolina triunguis (Three-Toes Box Turtle) on 6-19-19, #592-38.

This one was very shy and may have not ever encountered a human before. It would not show its face and I didn’t have time to encourage it. I always like to take photos of their faces because they come in many colors. Turtles are very long-lived, up to 50 years or longer.

 

Verbascum blattaria (Moth Mullein) on 6-19-19, #592-41.

Last week I photographed the Moth Mullein Verbascum blattaria f. albaflora in the front part of the pasture, and this week I found Verbascum blattaria. The same species just different color of flowers. Although they are beautiful flowers, several states have declared them a noxious weed… Verbascum blattaria are native to parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa but are flourishing in the United States (even Hawaii) and southern Canada. The Wikipedia article says “a study conducted in 1974 reported that when a number of Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae were exposed to a methanol extract of moth mullein, at least 53% of the larvae were killed. V. blattaria has also long been known to be an effective cockroach repellent, and the name blattaria is actually derived from the Latin word for cockroach, blatta.” Hmmm…

It further says: “In a famous long-term experiment, Dr. William James Beal, then a professor of botany at Michigan Agriculture College, selected seeds of 21 different plant species (including V. blattaria) and placed seeds of each in 20 separate bottles filled with sand. The bottles, left uncorked, were buried mouth down (so as not to allow moisture to reach the seeds) in a sandy knoll in 1879. The purpose of this experiment was to determine how long the seeds could be buried dormant in the soil, and yet germinate in the future when planted. In 2000, one of these bottles was dug up, and 23 seeds of V. blattaria were planted in favorable conditions, yielding a 50% germination rate.” That’s after 121 YEARS!

Of all the hours I have spent digging and spraying thistles, I have only taken photos a couple of days while I was working. Most days I haven’t had my camera with me. Most of the wildflowers on Kevin’s farm are the same as here, but there have been exceptions. Once you have a good camera and some experience, it only takes a few seconds to get good photos. I am using a Canon SX610 HS which I carry in my back pocket. I have used more expensive cameras in the past, but this one takes even better photos and is so handy. Even so, some flowers are hard to take photos of.

I didn’t work today because we had a storm come in. It was nice! (I laughed at that one…) Maybe I am a little strange, but I am not the only one. Dad and I both used to sit on the back porch together in many storms. We were under the roof of course.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive and continue giving thanks. As always, a little dirt is good for you.

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!