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!

Wildflower Walk Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

Well, I better get to the wildflowers, huh?

<<<<21>>>>

Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle)

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

<<<<22>>>>

Lonicera maackii (Bush Honeysuckle)

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

<<<<Doesn’t count as a wildflower>>>>

Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange)

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

 

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

<<<<23>>>>

Monarda fistulosa (Bee Balm, Bergamot, Etc.)

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

<<<<24>>>>

Persicaria hydropiperoides (Wild Water Pepper, Swamp Smartweed)

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

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

<<<<25>>>>

Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb)

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

 

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

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

<<<<26>>>>

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pinkweed)

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

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

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

<<<<27>>>>

Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose)

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

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

<<<<28>>>>

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan)

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

<<<<29>>>>

Solanum americanum (Black Nightshade)

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

<<<<30>>>>

Solidago sp. (Goldenrod)

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Wildflower Walk Part 2

<<<<11>>>>

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

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

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

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

 

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

<<<<12>>>>

Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)

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

 

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

 

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

<<<<13>>>>

Bidens bipinnata (Spanish Needles)

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

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

 

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

<<<<14>>>>

Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle)

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

 

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

 

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

<<<<15>>>>

Commelina communis (Dayflower)

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

 

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

<<<<16>>>>

Eupatorium altissimum (Fall Thoroughwort)

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

 

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

<<<<17>>>>

Euphorbia corollata (Flowering Spurge)

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

 

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

<<<<18>>>>

Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia)

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

 

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

 

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

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Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain)

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

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Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s Ironweed)

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

 

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

 

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

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

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