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.