Wildflower Catch Up With A Few Bugs…

Hello everyone! It is an interesting time of the year to go wildflower hunting since most of them have gone to seed. There are still a few flowering, especially where the hay was cut. I also noticed there weren’t as many insects as last week but there are still a few Monarch butterflies. The weather has been nice for the most part but we are supposed to have a couple of chilly nights. After that, it will warm up a little again.

Of course, the seeds of the Desmodium paniculatum (Panicledleaf Ticktrefoil) are always trying to hitch a ride. I have done pretty well avoiding them until the last three times I went out. This time was the worse. I walked through the middle of the south hayfield to avoid them which turned out to be a good idea. Unfortunately, I had to go through them to get to where I was going. I was on a mission. 🙂 Then when was finished, I walked out of the briars and looked at my boots. GEEZ! I should start wearing my old rubber boots with the hole in them. After that, I didn’t bother trying to avoid them. When I came back to the house, I removed them off my pants then sat down on an old telephone pole to pick them off my boots.  I removed them from one boot then thought how glad I was they weren’t those other stick tights (from the Torilis japonica). I pulled off the other boot and sat my foot right down on a cluster of the other stick tights I hadn’t noticed when I sat down. GEEZ!!! My sock was LOADED! One of their common names is the Tall Sock Destroyer and they live up to their name.

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) seed pod…

I originally went out for the walk to check on the last of two milkweed seed pods for the experiment crew at the Augusta University Biology Department in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They are studying the Showy and Common Milkweed and the hybrid species between the two. The Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) grows in the eastern half of the United States and the Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) grows in the western half. There is an area where they overlap and hybridize in the middle. They contacted members of iNaturalist that submitted observations of these milkweeds to participate in the study. I agreed to participate so they sent envelopes for the samples. I mailed the two pods on Thursday.

Their information says, “We gave been collecting genetic, metabolomic (any small-molecule chemicals found within a tissue sample), and phenotypic (physical characteristics, such as shape of the leaves, color of flowers, etc.) data by taking leaf and seed pod samples from plants in each species zone and within the hybrid zone. Once we have finished collecting this data, we will begin to analyze the differences between the two species and their hybrid species. With this information, we hope to begin to understand why these species remain geographically separated and how genes are passed between them.” 

On the way to where the milkweed was, I stumbled on something very interesting…

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-9.

I remember seeing maroonish leaves on another plant just like this one closer to the briar patch a while back, but this one was more in the center of the hayfield. I didn’t pay much attention earlier because I thought the plant had maroonish leaves because maybe something was wrong with it. You just never know… Weird things happen in nature. Anyway, Wednesday I saw this one with flowers and I completely didn’t recognize it. Of course, I took A LOT of photos. 🙂

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-10.

The large leafy bracts should have turned a light on because I have identified only one species like it. The flowers weren’t open which is probably why I still didn’t recognize it.

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) on 10-12-21, #843-11.

After I went through the 94 photos I had taken for the day and deleted the ones I didn’t want. I separated them by species and uploaded the observations on iNaturalist that I already knew. Then, I took the first photo for this one and uploaded it for ID. It suggested ONLY Elephantopus carolinianus. I thought it was completely whacky! I did the same to the second and it said the same thing. I took a better look at the second photo and then it hit me. HOLY CRAP! I have Elephantopus in my hayfield!

I first saw this species on September 9 in 2019 while I was herding cattle on a friend’s mother’s farm. I was in a dead run going down a wooded hillside toward the creek when I spotted them. I almost rolled the rest of the way down. Anyway, you can read about it on THIS POST.

The Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) is definitely one of the most interesting wildflowers I have ever seen. I will try and get photos of its flowers opened up, but you can click on the name above to go it its own page.

Ipomoea hederacea (Ivy-Leaved Morning Glory), 10-12-21

There were several Ipomoea hederacea (Ivy-Leaved Morning Glory) blooming in the south hayfield as well. I don’t have a page for this one because I just got a proper ID. 🙂

Then I walked to the southeast corner of the hayfield to go to the back pasture, through the blackberry briars…

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed) in the southeast corner of the back pasture on 10-12-21, #843-28.

The Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed) are still blooming up a storm. They attract A LOT of pollinators and other insects that have a hard time finding food this time of the year. Normally, they probably aren’t flowering that much now, but they regrew after the hay was cut. I do not have a page for this species yet.

Danaus plexippus (Monarch) on the Vernonia missurica on 10-12-21, #843-5.

There are still a few Monarch’s flying around the ironweed but not near as many as last week. This one let me get very close.

Euthochtha galeator (Helmeted Squash Bug) on 10-12-21, #843-22.

There are many species of insects that look similar to this Helmeted Squash Bug. This one was feeding on what looked like whiteflies when I first saw it and it didn’t really like my intrusion. I asked it to pose and give me a big smile but it kept looking at its food.

Croton capitatus (Wooly Croton) on 10-12-21, #843-3.

There is a lot of Croton capitatus (Hogwort, Wooly Croton, Goatweed Etc.) flowering in the back pasture right now… There aren’t usually that many here…

Then I walked north toward the…

Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) on 10-12-21, #843-7.

The Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) tree in the back pasture is really LOADED this year.

Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon) on 10-12-21, #843-8.

Besides being able to cut the milkweed seed pod and seeing the Elephantopus, being able to eat a few persimmons made the whole walk worthwhile. Then I walked to the house to pick off the mess on my boots.

That’s all I have for now. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.

Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 2…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)

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

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

Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth)

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

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

 

Phytolacca americana (American Pokeweed)…

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

 

Hmmm… Blackberries…

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

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

 

Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed)…

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

 

Chenopodium album (Lamb’s Quarters)…

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

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

Vitis sp. and Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose)…

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

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

DOUBLE HMMM!!!

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

 

Solanum carolinense (Horse Nettle)…

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)…

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

 

Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)…

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past Week Wildflowers

Asclepias stenophylla (Narrowleaf Milkweed) on 7-16-19. #602-1.

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. The past week has been fairly hot with no rain. I went back to check on the status of the thistles at Kevin’s farm north of town on Tuesday and Wednesday. I think I have them pretty well whipped but there are always a few I missed from before. The Bull Thistles are always a one-time shot and not that big of a problem. The Musk Thistles have been a different story. The bigger plants are all gone but small ones continue to sprout a flowering stem here and there. It is almost like they do this overnight. Supposedly they grow a rosette the first year and flower their second. Well, I can argue that point after spending two months with them. The plants that continue to shoot up flowers are less than a foot tall while earlier the bigger plants were up to around 4′ tall. It has really been an experience.

I have continued to take photos of wildflowers while I worked. There is a combination of two days of photographs in this post but I wanted them in alphabetical order. The Asclepias stenophylla (Narrowleaf Milkweed) in the above photo is getting with it now.

 

Asclepias stenophylla (Narrowleaf Milkweed) on 7-16-19, #602-2.

The bumblebees really like them.

 

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) seed pod on 7-16-19, #602-4.

I had to take a photo of the seed pod of the Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed). Its unique seed pods are one of the identifying features of this species of milkweed.

 

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) on 7-16-19.

While taking photos, a cow walked by and ate the tops right off this Common Milkweed. You can see the sap oozing out of the stems… Hmmm…

 

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) on 7-16-19, # 602-6.

The Common Milkweed is a very robust plant that can grow to over 6′ tall. In pastures, they don’t get that chance and this group is only around 3′ tall, possibly multi-stemmed perhaps from an earlier pruning.

 

Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) seeds on 7-16-19, #602-7.

The Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) are among the first of the milkweeds to flower at the farm then are among the first to go to seed.

 

Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) seeds on 7-16-19, #602-8.

By contrast to many other plants, the large seed pods are mainly filled with fluff which helps the seeds float through the air. The distance they travel depends on a few things including wind speed and the height of neighboring plants. Rain can also spoil their trip by making the fluff heavy and wet and then the seeds just fall to the ground close to the parent plant.

 

Asclepias viridis on 7-17-19, #603-3.

While there are still a few Asclepias viridis (Green Milkweed) flowering, most have gone to seed.

 

Asclepias sp. on 7-17-19, #603-1.

While most of the milkweeds are pretty easy to identify, especially when flowering, I have found one that has me stumped… When I first saw this plant and took a couple of photos, I didn’t realize what a difficult time I would have identifying it. If I had have known, I would have taken more photos and looked around for other plants like it while I was working.

 

Asclepias sp. on 7-17-19, #603-2.

If I have a plant I cannot figure out, I contact Pamela Trewatha from the Missouri State University (Springfield, Missouri). I am not sure if she is a botanist, horticulturalist or what but she maintains their Midwest Weeds and Wildflowers website and I think she took most of the photographs. She was stumped on this one as well which was very surprising. She thought it could be Asclepias sullivantii although she said she has never seen one in person. I looked at hundreds of photos online and I haven’t figured it out. This plant does not have the growth habit like Asclepias sullivantii nor are their leaves similar. There are many other differences as well that ruled out A. sullivantii. There were a few possibilities but not close enough. The one species that came close does not grow here and where it does grow it is very rare. There were no flowers on this plant and I didn’t notice any old flowers or seed pods. When I go back I will scout the area and see if there are other plants like this clump and possibly find flowers or seed pods. The spent flower in the above photo is a Red Clover…

There are several wildflower websites I use for ID. While there are milkweeds with similar leaves, some species leaves are “variable” and can be “oval” or have a slight point at the tip. However, the veining on this species leaves are not that “refined”, the tips are round, the midribs are light green (some species can have either maroonish or green midribs), and the central stems on this milkweed are brownish and not green like most… The leaves are also fairly small.

 

Cotinis nitida (Green June Beetle) on 7-16-19, #602-9.

I found a good-sized group of Bull Thistle I had somehow overlooked right in the middle of a large area. When I was getting ready to spray, the plants came to life as these HUGE beetles started flying out. It was very hot, so apparently, the beetles were farther down inside the thistles. I couldn’t get any photos at first because the beetles were moving pretty fast. Then, several feet away, I noticed this beetle along with a Japanese Beetle on a stem of an old Musk Thistle.

 

Cotinis nitida (Green June Beetle) on 7-16-19, #602-10.

The Cotinis nitida (Green June Beetle) is a pretty good-sized bug. They feed on flowers in pastures but also eat fruit. I attempted to pick up this guy (or gal) but it wanted no part of a new friendship. Beetles are not the most graceful flyers and sometimes you wonder if they even have a clue as to where they are going. These beetles sound like a small plane (very small) when they fly. When there are hundreds flying at once you might want to take cover because you will get run into.

 

Croton capitatus (Hogwort) on 7-16-19, #602-11.

This interesting species is the Croton capitatus, commonly known as Hogwort, Wooly Croton, and Goatweed. Croton is a very large genus consisting of 1,173 species (as of this post date) and this species is found through much of the United States. The Missouri Department of Conservation says there are three species of Croton in Missouri. I have two species growing on the farm.

 

Croton capitatus (Hogwort) flowers on 7-16-19, #602-13.

Their flowers aren’t that particularly interesting unless you take a closer look… The cluster of flowers consists of male flowers toward the tip and female flowers below. Male flowers have 5 tiny white petals and 10-14 anthers. The female flowers don’t have petals but have 6-9 calyx lobes which are split 2-3 times making a total of 12-24 lobes. The fruits are about 1/4” wide and contain only three seeds each. Apparently doves and quail like their seeds.

While many wildflower species have many medicinal benefits, this plant produces Croton Oil which is a powerful laxative.

 

Dianthus armeria (Deptford Pink) on 7-17-19, #603-5.

The Dianthus armeria (Deptford Pink) grow throughout the farm here as well as at Kevin’s. The flowers are so small it is very hard to get good photos of, especially close-ups. The plants are very short and have narrow, lance-shaped leaves. Although not an original US native, they can be found growing throughout most of the US and Canada.

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cutleaf Teasel) on 7-16-19, #602-14.

While I was walking around the area where the Cutleaf Teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus) were I noticed more flowers. I guess the photos I had taken for a previous post were their buds and now they are flowering.

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cutleaf Teasel) flower on 7-16-19, #602-15.

There were a lot of bumblebees on the flowers as well as a few Japanese Beetles. It was funny watching for a few seconds. It was like the bumblebees were on a mission and no Japanese Beetles were going to get in their way.

 

Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow Coneflower) on 7-17-19, #603-6.

I needed to go visit a friend Wednesday afternoon so I decided to drive by the large colony of Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow Coneflower). This is where I was going to dig some plants up this spring but… Well, it didn’t happen. Maybe I can collect some seeds later. I love the way the native coneflowers petals droop.

Ummm… While I was taking photos of the Yellow Coneflower, I noticed some really neat leaves but there were no flowers… Then later I spotted them again with flowers… The name begins with an “S” so it is farther down in the post. 🙂

 

Lotus corniculatus (Bird’s Foot Trefoil) on 7-17-19, #603-7.

I have seen this plant growing along highways for MANY years and have always wondered with it was. Usually, I don’t have time or I don’t have the camera, but mainly because I didn’t want to stop along the highway. Well, when I went to visit my friend on Wednesday I noticed them growing along a different road. Not only them but the plants that begin with the “S”.

The plants in the above photo are Lotus corniculatus commonly known as the Bird’s Foot Trefoil. Hmmm… OK, I know how common the Bird’s Foot Trefoil is but I had never seen any up close and personal until now.

The Lotus corniculatus isn’t a US native. The Wikipedia says the plant is native to parts of North Africa and Eurasia. Hmmm… I learned something. I had to click on Eurasia to find out where it was. I don’t think they taught it was Eurasia when I was in school… It is the largest continent on Earth consisting of all of Europe and Asia with 70% of the world’s population. Hmmm… I didn’t even realize Africa was considered an Asian country. Well, I got stuck reading about Eurasia so I better get back to…

Where was I anyway? Oh yeah! Lotus corniculatus!

 

Lotus corniculatus (Bird’s Foot Trefoil) on 7-17-19, #603-8.

I lost my train of thought while reading about Eurasia and kind of went blank because I didn’t know… Anyway, it was interesting.

Bird’s Foot Trefoil is grown as a high-quality forage plant for pastures, hay, and silage that does not cause bloat.

 

Lotus corniculatus (Bird’s Foot Trefoil) on 7-17-19, #603-9.

The flowers are particularly interesting. What is even more interesting is that a plant guy didn’t even realize these yellow flowers growing along the road were Bird’s Foot Trefoil! Several people have asked me what they were over the years but I never knew until now. Now I know and I am thankful. I am also thankful for learning where Eurasia is. 🙂

Ummm… The Lotus genus is a member of the Fabaceae (Pea Family) and contains 124 accepted species.

What we usually think of as a Lotus is the Nelumbo nucifera, also known as the Sacred Lotus Flower, Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, Egyptian Bean or simply lotus. It is the only genus in the family Nelumbonaceae with two accepted species. Strange the Water Lily isn’t in the same family, but they are in the Nymphaeaceae family. Hmmm…

I had to check on that because I was wondering why Bird’s Foot Trefoil was a Lotus. Then I find out the Lotus isn’t a Lotus. Double hmmm…

 

Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange) on 7-16-19, #602-16.

OK, I realize the Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange) isn’t a wildflower and maybe most wouldn’t find them that interesting. For me, though, I think they are a magnificent tree especially when they get very old.

 

Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange), 7-16-19, #602-17.

Just look at that massive trunk… This tree isn’t quite as large as the old one at my place, but it is still pretty good sized.

 

Maclura pomifera (Osage Orange) on 7-16-19, #602-21.

This tree, like most very old Osage Orange, have stood the test of time. Just think of how many high winds, thunderstorms, heavy snows, and ice they have been through. If you ever have a chance to visit a very old and large Osage Orange, look up into the tree and you can see how they have twisted and turned over the years. They tell a tale of a long life in the elements of nature and have endured them all. This tree was really talking and I enjoyed our brief visit and feeling the energy surrounding it. It is more than alive, it is A LIFE! 🙂

 

Nepeta cataria (Catnip) on 7-17-19, #603-10.

While I was spraying in a little area I had rarely gone, I noticed a plant I completely didn’t expect to see in the wild. I said, “It’s a mint! What in the world are you doing here?” Of all places next to a Gooseberry bush and Osage Orange tree where an old fence row had been. Just goes to show you just never know what you might find… Oh! It is a Nepeta catariaCatnip! They have different leaves and flowers than Spearmint.

I suppose the Catnip has to grow in the wild somewhere and there are several mints that are native to Missouri. I have just never seen any in the wild. Of course, they are members of the Lamiaceae family along with 234 other genera of aromatic and tasty culinary herbs.

 

Physalis longifolia (Common or Smooth Ground Cherry) flower on 7-16-19, #602-22.

Had I not noticed something weird about this plant, I could have easily passed it off as a Horsenettle. All I saw at first was a nearly hidden yellow flower drooping downward so I thought I would have a peek because Horsenettle does not have yellow flowers. Then I saw what else was hidden beneath the leaves. As it turns out this plant is a Physalis longifolia, commonly known as the Common or Smooth Ground Cherry.

 

Physalis longifolia (Common or Smooth Ground Cherry) flower, on 7-16-19, #602-23.

AH HA, you say! 🙂 Well, at least I thought it looks like the plant called Chinese Lantern, which is actually Physalis peruviana. Perhaps you were thinking about the Tomatillo or Mexican Husk Tomato which is the Physalis philadelphica and/or Physalis ixocarpa. Well, inside of these small lanterns is a fruit which is also edible…

 

Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia) on 7-16-19, #602-24.

The Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia, etc.) are growing here and there on Kevin’s farm as where I live. They seem to be growing as solitary plants rather than in colonies except for in my ditch where there are several. I think there are more in the ditch in front of the house than on the entire pasture and hayfield. While they flower over a long period, they seem to only produce one flower at a time. While one bud is beginning to open, the one before it is fading. Some information online says the flowers open in the morning and fall off in the evening. Hmmm… These plants are very easy to recognize in the wild because, after all, they are a petunia. Not saying all Ruellia species are the same, but all do have similar characteristics. Plants of the World Online currently list 357 accepted species in the genus.

Now that I am down to the mystery plant… Well, maybe I should save it for a post of its own. Just kidding. 🙂 But I do feel a nap coming on…

 

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) leaves on 7-17-19, #603-13.

OK… The above photo, although taken out of numerical order, is the leaves of the plant with no flowers I saw when photographing the Echinacea paradoxa. They were by the road so apparently, their flower stems had been mowed off. I took the photo because I thought they were quite strange and unusual.

 

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) on 7-17-19. #603-20.

Hmmm… I realize you are laughing at me AGAIN because anyone who has driven on most highways and backroads has seen this plant. Of course, like me, maybe you just passed them off as some kind of sunflower. I had no idea this plant had so much interest whatsoever.

Found throughout Missouri except for the southeast corner, the Silphium laciniatum is easily identified by its pinnatifid leaves, hairy stems, and big yellow flower heads. Its common name is the Compass Plant because their flowerheads follow the sun across the sky (heliotropism) like many species in the Asteraceae family such as sunflowers.

 

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) leaves on 7-17-19, #603-14.

Silphium laciniatum has been used as a worm expelling, coughs, lung problems, asthma, and as an emetic. The resin produced on the upper part of the stems was chewed by Native Americans. The mouth cleansing gum is said to be fragrant but bitter.

Contrary to what you might think, the common name comes from their leaves and not their flowers. Pioneers believed that the leaves of the Compass Plant pointed in a north-south direction. The basal leaves do usually grow on a north-south axis thought to minimize intense overhead sun exposure. Of course, their flowers follow an east to west movement following the sun…

 

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) flower on 7-17-19, #603-23.

The Compass Plant grow from 6-12 feet tall and their flowers can be up to 5″ across. It can take several years for these plants to develop into a full-sized plant but they can live up to 100 YEARS! Their taproots can grow 15′ deep! The basal leaves can grow to 18″ long while the upper leaves are much smaller.

So now we know these plants are Compass Plants and not just another sunflower. 🙂

 

Solanum carolinense (Horsenettle) on 7-17-19, #603-25.

Of course, this is the common ‘ol run of the mill Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) we may all love to hate. One of its common names, Tread Softly, says a lot! While it is a member of the Nightshade family (along with tomatoes) and its fruit may look like cherry tomatoes, DO NOT EAT! The Wikipedia says:

“All parts of the plant, including its tomato-like fruit, are poisonous to varying degrees due to the presence of solanine glycoalkaloids which is a toxic alkaloid and one of the plant’s natural defenses. While ingesting any part of the plant can cause fever, headache, scratchy throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, ingesting the fruit can cause abdominal pain, circulatory and respiratory depression, or even death. “

I may have not taken a photo of the Horsenettle if it weren’t for the flower below which I noticed the day before…

 

Solanum carolinense (Horsenettle) on 7-16-19, #602-25.

Ummm… As I was working I noticed something a little unusual… While I do have a lot of Horsenettle in my pastures and hayfield, some of the colonies in Kevin’s pasture have these blue flowers. While it is true that some in my pasture do have a slight tint, they are mainly all white. So, I took photos and found that these are also Solanum carolinense. I thought maybe they were a different species, but no, just a different shade.

 

Verbena stricta (Hoary Vervain) on 7-16-19, #602-29.

One of my favorite wildflowers is Verbena. The interesting thing is that the species growing on Kevin’s farm are different than the ones growing where I live. This one is Verbena stricta commonly known as the Hoary Vervain. The species growing in my pastures and hayfield is the Verbena hastata commonly known as the Blue Vervain. I mainly noticed the difference by the Verbena stricta‘s broader leaves and larger flowers. The one thing that makes them very similar is getting photos that aren’t blurry… While Plants of the World Online list 147 species in the Verbena genus native to most parts of the world, Verbena hastata and Verbena stricta are native to most of the US and Canada.

I am finished for now because I ran out of photos. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed this post because I learned A LOT. I am thankful I found out about Eurasia, too!

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always, always, be thankful! After a week of heat and no rain, I am thankful we finally had rain this morning and as I am finishing this post.

 

 

 

 

Friday’s Find

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) on 7-12-19, #600-2.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well and doing your best to enjoy the summer. We have had some hot days but it cools down nicely in the evening. I hadn’t been out to the farm where I have been working on the thistles for 12 days until Thursday. Friday I made my way to an area where I had been watching a colony of plants. I had been waiting for them to flower so I could make an ID but they flowered while I was away.

While I was in the area I noticed an Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed). I have these growing along the lagoon at my house but I hadn’t taken any photos for some strange reason. This species of Milkweed grow pretty tall, up to around 6′, and have nice broad oval leaves. There is another species that is similar in Missouri but they may have gone extinct since none have been seen since 1933.

Asclepias syriaca is known as the Common Milkweed, Butterfly Flower, Silkweed, Silky Swallowwort, and Virginia Silkweed. This species was one of the earliest North American species described by Jacques-Philippe Cornut (French physical and botanist) in Canadensium Plantarum Historia in 1635. Many species of insects feed on the Common Milkweed.

Although the plant’s latex contains large quantities of glycosides which makes it toxic to livestock and humans, the young shoots, leaves, flower buds, and immature fruit are edible (raw). Apparently, it can be cooked like asparagus. I read this information on Wikipedia.

According to Plants of the World Online, there are 206 species in the Asclepias genus. It is a member of the Apocynaceae Family (family of Milkweeds) which currently contains 358 genera. Version 1.1 of The Plant List (updated in 2013) listed 410 genera and 5,745 species. It also lists a WHOPPING 10,568 synonyms (genus and species synonymous with other species) PLUS 3,928 species names that were still unresolved… Well, that was several years ago and those numbers have changed due to the effort of many botanists and horticulturalists. So many species had/have multiple scientific names. It is a continual work in progress.

 

Arilus cristatus (Wheel Bug) on 7-12-19, #600-1.

While looking at the Milkweed I noticed this assassin bug. It is the dreaded Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus). The Wheel Bug is one of the largest assassin bugs. I have seen these many times on the farm but didn’t know much about them. I found some good information on the North Carolina State Extension website. They feed on a number of insects including aphids, caterpillars, beetles, and many other problem insects. They inject their prey with a toxin that kills within 30 seconds. Their bite is said to be more painful than a wasp sting so it is best not to handle.

Debbie Roos has a great article titled Birth Of An Assassin Bug! on the North Carolina State University Extension website. The article also shows photos of their eggs.

 

Daucus carota (Queen Ann’s Lace) on 7-12-19, #600-3.

Earlier there was A LOT of Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) on the farm, and there still is for that matter. I mean, where would they go anyway? Now the Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) is flowering. Daucus carota is a member of the Apiaceae Family with carrots and 441 other genera. There are 45 accepted species in the Daucus genus.

While the Queen Anne’s Lace flowers are kind of similar in appearance to the deadly Poison Hemlock, their leaves have a mixture of tripinnate leaves, fine hairs, and a root that smells like carrots. Poison Hemlock have larger leaves and the plants grow MUCH taller. I ran across this YouTube video, Poison Hemlock Identification and Yarrow Comparision, that shows the difference between Poison Hemlock, Queen Anne’s Lace and Achillea millefolium.  While their flowers may look similar to people who don’t spend a lot of time in nature, the leaves of Achillea millefolium look nothing like the other two.

Since summer is here, it seems like the interest in “foraging” has returned. If you are interested in this, you really should invest in a field guide to take along with you, or even someone who is experienced. Ummm… Also when you do this, I suggest leaving your cell phones behind or at least turn them off. When you are out in nature, be out in nature and leave any distractions behind. Take time to be aware of the beauty and life around you. Sit quietly someplace with your eyes closed and allow your other senses to observe as well. Sometimes we see best with our eyes closed in nature. Be aware that we are all one with EVERY living thing.

 

Daucus carota (Queen Ann’s Lace) on 7-12-19, #600-4.

Flowers are used in arrangements and will change color depending on the color of the water, similar to Carnations.

Plants are beneficial companion plants attracting pollinators and improving the microclimate for some vegetables. Some states have it listed as a noxious weed and considered invasive in pastures when established.

Now for the plants I was keeping an eye on…

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cut-Leaved Teasel) on 7-12-19, #600-5.

I took an interest in these plants growing along the highway because I don’t have any like this at my place. I have seen them here and there, normally where there is a ditch or a creek.  It may sound strange but I had no clue what they were even after seeing their flowers but the name Teasel popped into my head on the way home. Well, I guess I must admit, the name didn’t just pop into my head. We are not alone and when we talk to ourselves we are actually talking to “them” as well. GEEZ! It is kind of hard to explain unless you have done the same…

OK, even though you might think I am a bit whacky, I will explain. Once you realize you are not alone and we have guides and Angels and so on with us all the time, when you talk to yourself you are also talking with them. They are here not only to guide us and watch over us, but they are also here to learn from us and our human experiences. They are very OLD and knowledgeable about many things. So, when you have questions about this and that, just ask. You will be surprised at how you receive your answers.

Anyway, this plant is, in fact, the Cut-Leaved Teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus). For some reason, it is a member of the Caprifoliaceae Family, also known as the Honeysuckle Family, which consists of mainly shrubs and vines. It was formerly in the Dipsacaceae Family (the Teasel Family). Plants of the World Online list 21 accepted species in the Dipsacus genus. There are a few other Teasel species found in Missouri but their flowers are a different color and their leaves are also different.

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cut-Leaved Teasel) on 7-12-19, #600-6.

I think they have already flowered but they are still very interesting.

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cut-Leaved Teasel) on 7-12-19, #600-7.

They are monocarpic, living for several years before flowering then dying. The flowers attract bumblebees, bee flies, butterflies, and skippers.

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cut-Leaved Teasel) on 7-12-19, #600-8.

Its leaves are oppositely arranged around the stem. The pinnately lobed leaves are around 16” long. The base of the leaves clasps around the prickly stems.

 

Dipsacus laciniatus (Cut-Leaved Teasel) on 7-12-19, #600-9.

There is quite a colony in the ditch that apparently aren’t old enough to flower. The leaves of immature plants are usually unlobed.

For more information about this plant, visit the Missouriplants.com, Its Wikipedia page, or just type in Dipsacus laciniatus. There are several state websites with good information.

Well, that’s it for this post. Until next time, take care, stay positive, be safe and always be thankful!